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University ( 




A Study in the History of Civilisation. 


Professor of German Literature, in Harvard 

[Second Edition.' 







Glimpses of 
Modern German Culture 


Glimpses of 
Modern German Culture 


Professor at Harvard University 

10 7 






Copyright, 1898, by 

0e JSorfc 







GERMANY ...... 9 

EMY OF SCIENCES . . . .16 







ARCHAL GERMANY . . . .113 








GERMANY is at present the classic land of 
moral contrasts. Nowhere is the conflict 
between the powers temporal and spirit- 
ual, between traditional creeds and per- 
sonal convictions, between autocracy and 
freedom being waged with greater inten- 
sity or deeper rooted bitterness. Nowhere 
is there such a variety of parties bent on 
mutual annihilation. 

The strife between church and state 
which in the seventies flamed up with such 
a sinister glare, is at present smouldering 
under the ashes. But it would be a mis- 
take to think that the passions which at 
that time seemed to set the whole nation 
on fire had spent their force. As long as 

io Glimpses of 

there is on the one hand a centralised em- 
pire claiming absolute control over the in- 
tellectual and moral training of all its sub- 
jects, on the other an infallible papacy 
claiming superhuman authority and de- 
manding unconditional submission to its 
divine laws, there can be no real and en- 
during public peace, there can be at best 
a temporary cessation of hostilities, and at 
any moment the perennial dispute between 
king and pontiff may break out again. 

Even less veiled than this war between 
the powers temporal and spiritual is the 
conflict between monarchy and democracy. 
There can be no doubt that this is the real 
point at issue between the Socialist labour 
party and the imperial Government. On 
the surface it is a question of labour organi- 
sation, of the distribution of wealth, of 
strikes and wages; at bottom it is a ques- 
tion of life and death between the divine 
right of kings and popular autonomy. Well 

Modern German Culture 

enough do the upholders of the monarchy 
know that the Socialist state of the future 
is a harmless Utopia, a humanitarian dream 
which would vanish into air at the first real 
attempt to put it into practice. This is 
not what they fear. What they do fear 
and what they resist with the grim ardour 
of men attacked in the very stronghold 
of their innermost convictions is the under- 
mining of military authority, the shattering 
of the belief in the royalist legend, the 
spread of republican ideas the real dan- 
gers to the monarchy which the Socialist 
propaganda of the last twenty-five years 
has conjured up. Hence the wholesale 
prosecution of Socialist editors, the endless 
trials for lese majesty, the organised efforts 
to suppress free thought by means of an 
approved theology, the ever repeated at- 
tempts to curtail the political franchise, 
measures of war which, of course, have 
no other effect but to strengthen and ce- 

1 2 Glimpses of 

ment the ranks of the opposition and to 
inspire them with a determined devotion 
to a cause which is glorified by martyrdom. 
And the same thorough-going, one 
might say exalted, fierceness characterises 
the third great struggle that disturbs the 
public peace of Germany: the struggle be- 
tween industrial bondage and industrial 
freedom. Nowhere are the lines between 
employer and employed more sharply 
drawn than in Germany, nowhere is there 
more of class feeling. But this very fact 
has given to the German labour movement 
a compactness and solidarity superior to 
that of most other countries; it has inibued 
it with a firm belief in the final victory of 
right that has something of a religious fer- 
vour; it has made it a movement of an emi- 
nently educational character; and I am in- 
clined to think that the Socialist working- 
men of Germany stand higher than the 
workingmen of most other countries in 

Modern German Culture 1 3 

intellectual drill, in political discipline, and 
in respect for the ideal concerns of life. 

These are the contradictions of public 
life in contemporary Germany. But there 
are contradictions also in the individual life 
of the cultivated German of to-day : above 
all the contradiction between the material- 
istic tendencies of our own, predominantly 
scientific age and the ideal cravings be- 
queathed to us by a past excelling in liter- 
ary and aesthetic refinement. In no single 
individual has this contrast received a more 
striking embodiment than in that strangely 
paradoxical poet-philosopher, whose rhap- 
sodic, half inspired, half crazy utterances 
have had such a dazzling, though stimulat- 
ing, influence on the present generation of 
German writers and artists: I mean, of 
course, in Friedrich Nietzsche. Here we 
see on the one hand a most delicate per- 
ception of the finest operations of the mind, 
a penetrating analysis of the most tender 
instincts and longings of the human soul, 

14 Glimpses of 

a revelling in artistic enjoyment, a glorifi- 
cation of the most sublimated culture 
and on the other hand, a savage delight in 
the underlying selfishness and brutality* of 
all life, a ruthless exaltation of might over 
right, a diabolical contempt for spiritual 
endeavour, an hysterical apotheosis of the 
"blond beast," of the " Uebermensch," 
and of cavalier morality. No wonder that 
Nietzsche himself in this whirlpool of con- 
flicting emotions should have lost his bal- 
ance, that the night of insanity should have 
closed in upon him and extinguished the 
lights of that exultant life which he loved 
so much. 

I have laid emphasis on the multitude of 
moral conflicts that beset contemporary 
Germany, not from any desire to paint 
gloom, but on the contrary, because I 
think that from the very friction of these 
opposing tendencies there has arisen the 
new life in art and literature which is char- 
acterised by such names as Wildenbruch, 

Modern German Culture 1 5 

Sudermann, Hauptmann, Boecklin. No- 
valis has defined individual genius as a 
plurality of personalities combined in one. 
Similarly, one might say that the German 
people is at present giving signs of genius 
because of the variety of opposing ideals 
which are struggling for supremacy in the 
national heart. He would be of little faith, 
indeed, who would deplore this struggle as 
a sign of national disintegration. 

The following sketches (nine of which 
have previously appeared in The Nation, 
four in The Bookman, one in The At- 
lantic) are a slight attempt to describe some 
of the symptoms of the eager activity indi- 
cated in the preceding remarks. Written 
partly in Berlin, partly in Cambridge, 
under the immediate impression of the mo- 
ment, they disclaim explicitly the sober 
impartiality of second thought; although 
readers familiar with my " Social Forces in 
German Literature " will find here the same 
basis of fundamental convictions. 

1 6 Glimpses of 




JULY, 1895. 

IT is eminently fitting that the Berlin Acad- 
emy should annually celebrate the memory 
of Leibniz not only because Leibniz was 
the virtual founder of this, the foremost of 
Germany's learned institutions, but chiefly 
because he was the first great representa- 
tive among the Germans of what is implied 
in the somewhat unfortunate term, modern 
culture. Leibniz stands midway between 
Luther and Goethe. He first reduced to 
philosophic reasoning the individualistic 
view of the universe which had been at the 
bottom of the Reformation movement, and 
which was to find its fullest artistic expres- 

Modern German Culture 1 7 

sion in the classic epoch of eighteenth-cen- 
tury literature. At a time when the Thirty 
Years' War and its disastrous conse- 
quences had crushed all national hopes, 
his philosophy formed a rallying-point for 
higher-striving minds, and opened up the 
prospect of an ultimate, though distant, 
resurrection of the German people. 

If Descartes, Locke, and even Spinoza 
look at the world as a huge mechanism in 
which there is little room left for sponta- 
neous activity and self-assertion, Leibniz 
considers it as an aggregate of an infi- 
nite multitude of independent intellectual 
forces. There is mind in everything. The 
body is nothing but mind contracted into 
form : " Omne corpus est mens momenta- 
nea." Between plant, animal, and man 
there is a difference of degree only, not of 
quality. The whole world is engaged in 
a process of continual change, transition, 
perfection. There is an unbroken line of 

1 8 Glimpses of 

development from the sleeping life of a 
seed-corn to the free consciousness of a 
full-grown man; from the gloomy egotism 
of the savage to the broad, enlightened 
charity of the sage. God is the supreme 
wisdom and the supreme love. From an 
infinite number of possible worlds he has 
chosen the actual world as the best. He 
has created it, and is therefore outside of 
it : but he has constituted it in such a man- 
ner that it needs no guidance except 
through its own intrinsic laws. He has 
so arranged it that all individual forces 
work together harmoniously and for a 
common end. Evil itself is only a less per- 
fect good. An admiring insight into this 
harmony of the universe is man's highest 
happiness and virtue. It is happiness, be- 
cause it gives us trust in the reasonableness 
of things and makes us accept all that may 
befall us, pain no less than pleasure, as the 
dispensation of a divine providence. It is 

Modern German Culture 

virtue, because it helps us to overcome all 
littleness, puts before us the ideal of a com- 
plete existence, and teaches us through 
self-perfection to take part in the better- 
ment of the race. 

Strange and enigmatic as this curious 
mixture of scientific ideas and mythologi- 
cal images must appear to an age which 
has accustomed itself to approach all ques- 
tions without the bias of the supernatural, 
it is none the less clear that the leading 
thought of the nineteenth century, the idea 
of organic evolution, is here at least fore- 
shadowed. And however well deserved 
the fame of Leibniz the antiquarian, the 
linguist, the mathematician, the exact in- 
vestigator, may be, his true significance 
lies in this divinatory conception of the 
world as a living whole. 

Both the environment and the spirit of 
the assemblage which, the day before yes- 
terday, gathered in the modest hall of the 

20 * Glimpses of 

Berlin Academy of Sciences to do homage 
to this great man, were thoroughly char- 
acteristic of the prevailing tendencies 
patent or hidden in modern German life. 
Perhaps the most conspicuous thing about 
it was the complete absence of anything 
even approaching public interest in the 
matter. Suppose there were some stated 
day on which the memory of Locke or 
Hume was celebrated at Harvard Univer- 
sity a day on which men like William 
James, John Fiske, Brinton, Gildersleeve, 
Child (to take at random a few names sug- 
gested by the thought of a possible Ameri- 
can Academy) could be heard or seen a 
day, moreover, which would lend itself 
naturally to the most delightful afternoon 
teas and receptions a day on which the 
latest spring gown could be worn to the 
best advantage; then all the elements nec- 
essary for a most emphatically social time 
in the electric cars between Boston and 

Modern German Culture 2 1 

Cambridge would be given. The Berlin 
public evidently are so saturated with intel- 
ligence and culture that they are above the 
vulgar desire to see and hear distinguished 
men. And thus it happened that the Leib- 
niz day of the Royal Academy, an occasion 
in which men of world-wide fame, like 
Mommsen, Curtius, Virchow, Harnack, Du 
Bois-Reymond, were sure to participate, 
attracted, apart from the friends and guests 
of the Academicians themselves, not more 
than a little group of students and foreign 
visitors all told, an audience of some 
three hundred people; while in the daily 
press it was hardly mentioned, either be- 
fore or after. 

Another characteristic feature of the 
meeting and a most agreeable one was 
its absolute simplicity and freedom from 
formality. The only official representative 
of the Government present was Dr. Bosse, 
the Minister of Public Instruction, and he 

22 Glimpses of 

was a few minutes late. That Mommsen, 
the presiding officer, did not wait for him 
in opening the proceedings, seemed to me 
an accident of almost symbolical signifi- 
cance. Bureaucracy and militarism have 
not yet penetrated into the sanctuary of 
science, thank God ! Not a single uniform 
was to be seen in the audience; not a single 
lady whom one would have felt tempted to 
address with " Gnadige Frau." The pre- 
dominant types were earnest, unpreten- 
tious, and determined-looking men, and 
simple and benevolent-looking housewives. 
Even boys and girls were there, sitting 
quietly and modestly with their parents. 
It was altogether a family affair of Berlin's 
best men. 

To me the most interesting figure was 
Mommsen. He sat by the side of Curtius, 
and the two together appeared an almost 
perfect embodiment of the ideal scholar. 
Curtius, though he has rallied from his re- 

Modem German Culture 23 

cent accident with wonderful elasticity, yet 
gives the impression of one whose thoughts 
do not dwell any longer on this earth. 
The far-away look of his eye and the mel- 
ancholy smile that plays around his lips 
these characteristic expressions of his es- 
sentially lyric temper have been accentu- 
ated by the approach of the end, and sur- 
round him more than ever with a curious 
dreamy charm. Mommsen, on the other 
hand, seems to have been only steeled and 
invigorated by old age. His voice is as 
keen and penetrating as ever, his eye has 
still the same inexorable, sibylline glance 
as of old; and the sarcastic lines that run 
from nose to chin are perhaps even more 
marked than they used to be. But, at the 
same time, there is spread over his face a 
certain softness which was formerly absent, 
and the nervousness of his manner has en- 
tirely disappeared. 

The exercises of the day consisted in an 

24 Glimpses of 

opening address by Mommsen, in the intia- 
tion, also by Mommsen, of some newly 
elected members, among them Erich 
Schmidt and Adolf Erman; and in a memo- 
rial address on Helmholtz by Du Bois- 
Reymond. While the latter was in the 
main biographical, and offered little that 
was either new or of universal interest, 
there was a terseness, a poignancy, a free- 
dom in all that Mommsen said, which was 
simply irresistible. The central subject of 
his remarks was the relation of the special- 
ist to the whole system of human knowl- 
edge. " Are we truly assembled here in 
the spirit of Leibniz? " he asked. " Can 
we truly call ourselves his disciples? " The 
answer to this question seems at first sight 
to be a negative one. To Leibniz the in- 
dividual fact had no significance except as 
a link in the whole of a well-rounded and 
complete view of the world; and he him- 
self mastered all the details of a systematic 

Modem German Culture 25 

view of the world which was the fruit of 
his own thought and his own researches in 
nearly every domain of science. To us the 
isolated fact is only too often the final goal 
of investigation; and as for mastering the 
system of knowledge as a whole, none of 
us is a master, we are all journeymen. " Un- 
ser Werk lobt keinen Meister; nicht wir 
beherrschen die Wissenschaft, die Wissen- 
schaft beherrscht uns." If, then, through 
specialisation of work we have lost the uni- 
versal culture and true humanity which for 
Leibniz was still attainable, it would yet be 
a grave mistake to condemn on that ac- 
count the tendency of specialisation. On 
the contrary, it is the specialist i. e., the 
specialist who looks beyond the isolated 
fact who is to lead us back to culture and 
humanity. Only from him can we expect 
the elucidation of the organic unity of all 
knowledge; only he can penetrate to the 
one source of all life. It is, therefore, he, 



26 Glimpses of 

and not the compiler, who truly represents 
the conception of science as an organic 
whole; and of him more truly than of any 
one else can it be said that he walks in the 
footsteps of Leibniz. 

While this was the general trend of 
Mommsen's discourse, it was perfectly ap- 
parent that through it all there ran an un- 
dercurrent of protest against recent politi- 
cal developments, against the autocratic 
rule of the present Emperor and the con- 
stantly growing overbearance of Prussian 
officialdom. It was undoubtedly intended 
for the ears of the Minister of Public In- 
struction, who, by the way, sat directly op- 
posite him, when Mommsen remarked that 
the time seemed forever gone when a dis- 
tinguished scholar like Wilhelm von Hum- 
boldt could at the same time be a Prus- 
sian Minister of State. It was an unmistak- 
able reproof of the Emperor's extraordi- 
nary treatment of the venerable Von Sybel 

Modern German Culture 27 

when Mommsen spoke of the relation of 
Frederick the Great " Friedrichs des Ein- 
zigen" to the members of the Acdemy 
as something which would be simply im- 
possible at present. It was a direct con- 
demnation of contemporary Byzantinism 
and a plea for a freer and nobler view of life 
than that held by modern worshipers of 
might, when in the words of welcome ad- 
dressed to Erich Schmidt, he called it the 
task of the historian of German literature 
" to lead the age of William back to the 
age of Schiller and Goethe." And thus 
there was heard even in this peaceful gath- 
ering an echo of the conflict which is di- 
viding modern Germany into two hostile 
camps a conflict of which we thus far 
have witnessed only the beginning. 

28 Glimpses of 

AUGUST, 1895. 

THE little town of Kolberg in Pomera- 
nia, so famous for the bravery displayed by 
its citizens during the Napoleonic invasion, 
was recently the scene of a somewhat re- 
markable incident. As is not unusual in 
German watering-places, the bathing es- 
tablishments of Kolberg are under the su- 
pervision of the municipal government, 
and the principal hotel of the town, the so- 
called Strandschloss, is city property. As 
the dining-hall of this hotel is the largest 
hall in the town, it has come to be the cus- 
tomary meeting-place for political parties 
of every description. Some weeks ago 
Bebel, the Socialist leader, was to give an 
address in Kolberg. The local committee 

Modern German Culture 29 

of the Socialist party applied to the mayor 
for the use of the Strandschloss hall on this 
occasion, and the mayor, himself a Liberal 
of long standing and a man without any 
Socialistic affiliations, granted the request. 
The meeting took place, and is universally 
reported to have been perfectly orderly and 
well behaved. 

So far so good. But now the matter 
begins to be interesting. No sooner have 
the state authorities, the Landrat of the 
district of Kolberg and the Regierungs- 
Prasident of the province of Pomerania, 
been informed of the mayor's compliance 
with the Socialist petition than they divine 
treason. The Landrat endeavours to in- 
duce the commander of the Kolberg gar- 
rison to withdraw the regimental band 
from the daily concerts in the Strand- 
schloss Park; the Regierungs-Prasident 
countermands an official dinner which was 
to be held in the Strandschloss, and, at 

30 Glimpses of 

the same time, requests from the mayor a 
prompt justification of the motives that 
have led him to an act calculated to en- 
danger the commercial interests as well as 
the good repute of the city of Kolberg. 
And when the mayor, in his reply, declares 
his conduct to have been actuated by the 
demands of simple, common justice, he is 
fined to the amount of ninety marks for 
misbehaviour and neglect of duty. 

Extraordinary as these facts are, they re- 
ceive their proper relief only through the 
correspondence between Regierungs-Prasi- 
dent and mayor occasioned by them. The 
Regierungs-Prasident distinctly affirms it 
to be incompatible with good morals and 
public decency to have any relations what- 
soever with " a party which has written the 
overthrow of the existing social order, of 
the monarchy, and the Christian religion 
on its banner." The mayor asserts with 
equal directness that to deprive the Social- 

Modern German Culture 31 

ists of the rights granted to all other po- 
litical parties is simply shutting one's eyes 
to the fact that of all German parties they 
are, numerically at least, the strongest: 

" He who does not want to sit where 
Socialists have sat, will nowadays be some- 
what embarassed to find a seat anywhere 
in Germany; at least he cannot any longer 
travel in railway carriages. What we eat 
and drink is for the most part made by 
Socialists. Our clothes have been manu- 
factured by Socialist workingmen. You 
cannot live in a new house in the building 
of which Socialists have not been engaged. 
In short, to avoid Socialists or to stigmatise 
them as a class outside of the pale of re- 
spectable society is an absolutely futile task. 
Only by acknowledging them as a public 
factor on an equality with all other public 
factors can the social peace be furthered." 

In this Kolberg incident we have in a 
nutshell the whole of the political situation 

3 2 Glimpses of 

in Germany with regard to Socialism. The 
Government, on the one hand, since the 
defeat of the famous anti-revolution bill, 
is more eagerly than ever resorting to a 
policy of small advantages and petty perse- 
cutions. Hardly a day passes without the 
conviction of some obscure enemy of so- 
ciety, or without the dissolution of some 
Socialistic organisation. Since the courts 
in all cases of lese-majesty one of the 
most common forms of Socialistic crimes 
adopt secret sessions, it is impossible to 
get anything like full knowledge of this 
part of the anti-Socialist warfare. But 
there can be little doubt that the ma- 
jority of cases is not very different from 
one which was tried before a Berlin court 
a few days ago and of which there was 
given out the following official report : " A 
butcher, Franz Rautenberg, having made 
some contemptuous remarks about the 
Emperor, was convicted of lese-majesty. 

Modern German Culture 33 

Although the incriminating utterances were 
not of an out-and-out insulting nature, the 
court fixed the sentence at six months' im- 
prisonment, since the defendant had al- 
ready served a previous term of two 
months for blasphemy, and consequently 
must be considered as predisposed to crim- 
inal acts of this kind." 

In cases like this it is only an individual, 
and perhaps a worthless one, who is hurled 
by the defenders of morality into utter 
moral ruin. But it is not individuals only, 
it is above all the party organisations 
against which the saviours of society di- 
rect their hollow weapons. That in Ham- 
burg a few weeks ago one hundred and 
fifty working-women were fined fifteen 
marks each for belonging to a club in 
which political matters were discussed (the 
privilege of forming political organisations 
being reserved to men), may have been 
reported even in American newspapers. 

34 Glimpses of 

Less striking, but none the less significant, 
is a case which recently' happened in Cope- 
nick, a little town near Berlin. There ex- 
ists in Copenick a Socialist Wahlverein, 
comprising some twelve to sixteen mem- 
bers, who meet as a rule every two weeks. 
At one of their last meetings they were 
surprised to see a policeman enter at ten 
o'clock and demand an adjournment, on 
account of the " Polizeistunde " having 
struck. The members of the club naturally 
protested against this action, pleading that 
their club as a closed society was not sub- 
ject to the ordinary police regulations. 
But the Oberverwaltungs-Gericht, before 
which, as the highest tribunal, this protest, 
in the ordinary course of judicial proceed- 
ings, was carried, decided that, inasmuch 
as the club in question had not a fixed 
membership, but could be joined on pay- 
ment of a small fee by any sympathiser 
with the Socialist cause, it was not a closed 

Modern German Culture 35 

society; that its meetings were not private 
meetings, but public gatherings, and there- 
fore subject to all the regulations which are 
in force for public gatherings; that, in 
short, every one of its meetings must be 
announced beforehand to the police au- 
thorities and must be attended by a police 

It is clear that this decision of the Ober- 
verwaltungs-Gericht, if carried out con- 
sistently, will put a speedy end in Prussia 
to all political clubs which, for one reason 
or another, are inconvenient to the Gov- 
ernment. For it would be hard to find a 
political club of any description the mem- 
bership of which was not equally elastic 
with that of the Copenick Wahlverein, and 
would not consequently come under the 
same kind of police supervision. And it 
is not surprising that already the larger 
Socialist organisations, as, for instance, the 
Berlin Freie Volksbiihne, which at present 

3 6 Glimpses of 

is a body of some 8,000 members admitted 
by the payment of a small fee, are prepar- 
ing for voluntary dissolution, of course 
only in order to carry on their work un- 
molested by official interference, under the 
disguise of some other less compact and 
palpable form. 

While the Government is thus wasting 
its strength in the futile attempt to fight 
the Socialist propaganda with petty police 
annoyances, the country seems to be re- 
sistlessly drifting into the arms of this very 

It is a sad fact, but it is none the less a 
fact, that, twenty-five years after the foun- 
dation of the German Empire, German 
party life has reached a degree of confusion 
hardly less obnoxious than was the ab- 
sence of all parliamentary institutions under 
the old Bundestag regime. There is act- 
ually not a single German party, except the 
Social Democratic, which, either on account 

Modern German Culture 37 

of its size or the consistency of its pro- 
gramme, seems destined to be a controlling 
power in national affairs. The Conserva- 
tives, naturally the allies of a government 
which for generations has been accustomed 
to rely principally on the unwavering sup- 
port of the landed gentry, have been forced 
into a perfectly untenable position through 
their exclusively agrarian policy and their 
consequent opposition to the governmental 
policy of a tentative free trade. The Cen- 
tre party, since the death of Windthorst, 
the only man who was able to control 
its centrifugal tendencies, is more and 
more tending towavds an open rupture 
between its feudal and its radical ele- 
ments. And, what is most momentous 
of all, the very class which, after all, 
has had the largest share in securing 
to Germany her present position as a 
leading power among the nations of the 
world in intellectual, industrial, and com- 

38 Glimpses of 

mercial progress the " bourgeoisie " 
is politically reduced to absolute impo- 
tence: whatever there is left of the old 
Liberal party is a mere name and shadow. 
It is only natural that this condition 
of things a condition unquestionably 
brought about through the Bismarckian 
policy of playing off one party against an- 
other without allowing either to obtain a 
share in the government should have led 
to a general discontent and uneasiness 
throughout the German land, the intensity 
of which it would be hard to overestimate. 
The farmer declaims against the commer- 
cial treaties with Russia and Austria, which 
are ruining his wheat trade; the manufact- 
urer rebels against the burden imposed 
upon him through the accident- and old- 
age insurance laws, the bureaucratic pro- 
visions of which seem to make the larger 
part of the contributions intended for the 
benefit of the labourer go to maintain an 

Modern German Culture 39 

army of petty administrative officers; the 
small tradesman and artisan clamour 
against the ruthless monopoly of trusts, 
and demand the restitution of the old-time 
guilds; and everybody is disgusted with a 
government on which it is impossible to 
place any reliance, a government which 
will undo to-morrow what it has done to- 
day, a government which is nothing but a 
tool in the hands of a restless, impetuous, 
and eccentric sovereign of the Stuart order. 
Is it surprising that, under these circum- 
stances, the only party which is unwilling 
to make any compromise with the ruling 
system, which stands unwaveringly by the 
programme of a radical democracy, should 
rapidly increase its ranks? Is it, in other 
words, surprising that the Socialist party 
is fast developing into the only formidable 
opposition party, so that the time may be 
foreseen when the Socialist leaders will at 
the same time be among the foremost lead- 
ers of Parliament? 

40 Glimpses of 

That, on the other hand, this very party 
is more and more losing its exclusively 
socialistic character, that it is more and 
more converting itself into a party of peace- 
ful, though radical reform, that it looks to 
a final absorption of all the liberal elements 
of the country, is a fact which only the 
blindest fanaticism can deny. The time is 
long past when the Socialist meetings were 
gatherings of the mob. To-day the So- 
cialist organisations which devote them- 
selves to the elevation of the masses, to 
the spreading of moral and political en- 
lightenment, to the cultivation of science, 
literature, music, and other forms of intel- 
lectual refinement, are legion. To-day, it 
is a principle adopted by the rank and file 
as well as by the leaders of the party, that 
the only way to combat successfully the 
ruling system of militarism and officialdom 
is the peaceful revolutionising of minds, 
not a violent convulsion of the social order. 

Modern German Culture 41 

And if the present development is allowed 
to go on unchecked by international con- 
flicts or other complications, we may look 
forward to the formation of a party resting 
on the broad masses of the working popu- 
lation and the small trades people, but 
reaching out into the sphere of the well- 
to-do burgherdom and yeomanry; and this 
party will control the majority of the 
Reichstag. When this moment arrives, the 
real struggle for civic freedom in Germany 
will begin. 

4 2 Glimpses of 





MAY, 1896. 

Hauptmann are, in a way, representatives of 
two extremes in contemporary German 
literature. Wildenbruch, fiery, passionate, 
rhetorical; Hauptmann, dreamy, brood- 
ing, visionary. Wildenbruch, an ardent 
monarchist, a zealous supporter of the 
present regime, seeing the salvation of 
Germany in a continued supremacy of 
Bismarckian principles; Hauptmann, a 
Democrat if not a Socialist, in deepest 
sympathy with the sufferings of the " dis- 
inherited," hoping for the millennium of 

Modern German Culture 43 

universal brotherhood. Wildenbruch, . an 
idealist of the straightforward, unreflective 
type, sunny, serene, somewhat inclined to- 
ward melodramatic effects; Hauptmann, a 
strange mixture of a pessimistic realism 
and of a mystic faith in the glory of the 
unseen, disdaining all that is not absolutely 
genuine and true. Wildenbruch the great- 
er playwright; Hauptmann the greater 
poet. This contrast of artistic temper, 
while it marks the whole literary career of 
the two men, has never been brought out 
more conspicuously than in the two great 
historical dramas which have been the 
event of the year on the Berlin stage: 
Hauptmann's " Florian Geyer " and Wil- 
denbruch's " Heinrich und Heinrichs 

That Wildenbruch's " Heinrich " should 
have easily carried off the crown of popu- 
lar success, is not surprising. As a stage 
show it is simply overwhelming. Here 

44 Glimpses of 

we have all the brilliancy of diction, the 
intensity of action, the irresistible surging 
up to a grand climax which give eternal 
youth to Schiller's dramas; and, added 
thereto, we have the lifelikeness, the pal- 
pability, the breadth of detail, in which 
modern realism revels. Here we see, in- 
deed, the gigantic figure of History her- 
self striding over the stage, but we also 
see our own feelings, longings, and aspi- 
rations embodied in human forms, and rec- 
ognise them as the real movers and mak- 
ers of national destinies. The subject of 
the drama is a struggle which, as Bis- 
mark has said, dates back to the days when 
Agamemnon quarrelled with Calchas, the 
struggle between king and priest. The 
principal combatants in this struggle are 
Henry IV and Gregory VII; the prize for 
which it is fought out is Germany. With 
true dramatic instinct Wildenbruch 
throughout the play which is intended 

Modern German Culture 45 

for two successive evenings maintains 
himself on the very height of his subject; 
he leaps, as it were, from catastrophe to 
catastrophe, leaving it to the imagination 
of his hearers to make its way after him 
through the dark glens and ravines that 
lead up to these shining mountain peaks. 

In the beginning we see Henry as a boy, 
an impetuous, imperious youth, smarting 
under the discipline of a fanatically relig- 
ious mother, burning with the desire to 
equal the fame of his heroic father, at last 
thrust into the prison walls of monastic as- 
ceticism under the tutorship of Anno, 
Archbishop of Cologne. Next he appears 
as King, in the acme of his power. He 
has subdued the rebellious Saxons; he en- 
ters triumphantly his faithful Worms; he is 
received by the citizens as the protector of 
civil freedom against princely tyranny and 
clerical arrogance; all Germany seems to 
rise in a grand ovation to her beloved lead- 

46 Glimpses of 

er. Intoxicated by his success, he resents 
all the more deeply the paternal admoni- 
tions of Pope Gregory about the looseness 
of his private life which are just then con- 
veyed to him; he insists on being crowned 
Emperor at once; and, when this request 
is not complied with, he allows himself to 
be carried away by his indomitable wrath, 
he forces his bishops into that insulting let- 
ter by which Gregory is declared a usurper, 
a felon, a blasphemer, to be driven out 
from the sanctuary of the Church which he 
pollutes by his presence. 

And now we are introduced to the other 
great character of the drama, to the oppo- 
site of this fiery, unmanageable young 
ruler, to Gregory, the self-possessed and 
self-abasing priest, the man in whose soul 
there seems to be no room for any passion 
except the passion for the cause of the 
Church, for the triumph of the spirit over 
the flesh, and who nevertheless harbours in 

Modern German Culture 47 

his breast, unknown to himself, the most 
consuming ambition and the most colossal 
egotism. We see him sitting in cathedra 
in the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. 
Suppliants and criminals are brought be- 
fore him. A Flemish count, who has com- 
mitted murder, and who has in vain fled 
throughout the length and breadth of 
Europe in quest of delivery from the 
anguish of his tormented conscience, 
beseeches the Pope to put an end to 
his wretched life; Gregory, instead, holds 
out to him the hope of salvation 
through joining a crusade. A Roman 
noble, who in robber knight fashion has 
made an assault upon the Pope, and 
who by the clergy and the people has been 
condemned to death for this crime, is par- 
doned by Gregory " for he has sinned, 
not against the Church, the holy one, but 
against Gregory, a poor, feeble mortal." 
A lay brother of St. Peter's who, disguised 

48 Glimpses of 

as priest, has taken money from foreign 
pilgrims for reading mass to them, and 
who by the clergy and the people has been 
sentenced to a fine and exile, is ordered by 
Gregory to be thrown into the Tiber "for 
he has sinned against the Church, he has 
cheated human souls of their salvation." 

These scenes have just passed before our 
eyes when the messengers of King Henry, 
bearing the letter of libel and vilification, 
are admitted. Gregory is the only one who 
in the tumult that follows its reading re- 
mains absolutely calm; he protects the 
messenger himself against ,, the rage of the 
Romans; he forgives Henry, the man, for 
what he has said against Gregory, the man. 

" For what he has said against the head 
of the Holy Church, for that let Henry be 
cursed ! I forbid all Christians to serve thee 
as a King, I release them from the oath 
that they have sworn thee. Thou, dark- 
ness revolting against light, return to 

Modern German Culture 49 

chaos! Thou, wave revolting against the 
ocean, return to naught! No bell shall be 
sounded in the city where Henry dwells, no 
church be opened, no sacrament be admin- 
istered. Where Henry dwells, death shall 
dwell! Let my legates go forth and an- 
nounce my message to the world ! " 

The climax of the whole drama is, as it 
should be, the Canossa catastrophe. It is 
here that Gregory, the victor in the politi- 
cal game, succumbs morally; that Henry, 
the vanquished, rises in his native great- 
ness. It is here that Gregory, with all his 
soaring idealism, reveals himself as an in- 
human monster; that Henry, with all his 
faults and frailties, arouses to the full the 
sympathy which we cannot help feeling for 
a bravely struggling man. 

The excommunication of Henry has 
plunged Germany into civil war. A rival 
king, Rudolf of Swabia, has been proclaim- 
ed. He and the chiefs of his party have 

50 Glimpses of 

come to Canossa to obtain the papal sanc- 
tion for their revolt. Gregory clearly sees 
that Rudolf is nothing but a figure-head, a 
mere tool in the hands of fanatic conspira- 
tors, totally unfit to rule an empire. He 
clearly feels it his duty to discountenance 
this revolt, to restore peace to Germany by 
making his peace with Henry. But the 
demon of ambition lurking in his breast be- 
guiles him with a vision of world domin- 
ion; he, the servant of the servants of God, 
shall be the arbiter of Europe; he, the ple- 
beian, shall see the crowns of kings roll 
before him in the dust. He does not dis- 
countenance Rudolf and his party; and 
when Henry appears before the castle, 
broken and humiliated, asking for absolu- 
tion from the ban, Gregory remains un- 
moved. For three days and nights the 
King stands before the gate in ice and snow; 
for three days and nights the Pope sits in 
his chair, speechless, sleepless, refusing to 

Modern German Culture 5 1 

eat or drink. At last, the intercession of 
Henry's mother, who, herself in the 
shadow of death, has come to pray for her 
son's salvation, softens Gregory's heart : he 
admits Henry to his presence. Henry ap- 
pears, a king even in his misery. He bends 
his knee before the Pope, he confesses his 
guilt, he acknowledges the justice of his 
punishment. The reconciliation is brought 
about. Just then Henry's glance falls upon 
Rudolf and his followers standing in the 
background. He greets them as friends, 
thinking that they have come to renew their 
allegiance to him. But they rudely repulse 
him, and boast of the Pope's intention to 
acknowledge Rudolf as King. And Greg- 
ory does not contradict them. With fear- 
ful suddenness Henry sees what a shameful 
game has been played with him; and yet 
he masters himself, he makes one last ap- 
peal to whatever there is of true feeling in 
his opponent: 

5 2 Glimpses of 

" God, help me against myself ! Christ, 
Saviour, who wast thyself a king among 
the heavenly host and didst bow thy neck 
under the scourge, help me against myself ! 
(He turns abruptly toward Gregory?) Once 
before I knelt before thee I did it 
for myself. (He falls down on his knees?] 
Here, a second time, I lie before thee, for 
Germany lie I here ! Break thy silence ! 
Thy silence is the coffin in which the hap- 
piness of Germany is entombed ! If thou 
didst know how unhappy this Germany is 
thou wouldst speak speak! Thou, or- 
dained by God to bring peace to the world, 
let me take peace with me on my way to 
Germany, not war, not howling civil war ! " 

And Gregory remains silent! From 
here on to the end of the drama there is 
nothing but revenge, and revenge on re- 
venge. And this work of destruction does 
not stop until both Gregory and Henry have 
breathed their last. Both men die in de- 

Modern German Culture 53 

feat and desolation Gregory hearing from 
his death-bed the jubilant shouts of the 
faithless Romans as they greet the trium- 
phant entry of a rival pope, Henry driven 
into exile and hunted down by the minions 
of his rebellious son. Both die inwardly 
unbroken Gregory trusting in the future 
triumph of the Church, Henry trusting in 
the indestructible vitality of the German 

A few words may be added about Haupt- 
mann's " Florian Geyer," although it is im- 
possible to do justice to this work except 
by reading and analysing it scene by scene. 
The defects of Hauptmann's dramatic style 
are here, perhaps, more clearly visible than 
in any previous production of his. The 
lack of unity, the absence of a true hero, 
which were seen in " Die Weber," charac- 
terise this drama also. And, in addition 
to this, there is a slowness and diffuseness 
of movement which must be fatal to its 

54 Glimpses of 

effect as a theatrical piece. And yet it is 

impossible to resist the impression that 
here we are face to face with the creation 
of a great artist. Hauptmann sees things 
not as they appear on the stage, but as 
they are in life. He seems to have no 
thought of how his figures may affect his 
hearers. He simply tells what he sees, and 
he tells it with that wonderful directness 
which is the privilege of children and poets. 
Not a phrase which could not thus have 
been spoken; not an event which could not 
thus have taken place; not a character which 
would not probably have taken just this 
turn; and beneath all this realism, that 
strange belief in a hidden life which makes 
us feel that all these outward happenings 
are only feeble manifestations of some 
grand mysterious central force working 
under their surface. This is the manner in 
which Hauptmann in this drama makes us 
live through the great German peasant re- 

"Modern German Culture 55 

volt of the sixteenth century, its glorious 
beginning and its miserable end; its hopes, 
triumphs, excesses, massacres, failures; its 
noble enthusiasm, its dark fanaticism, its 
savageness and greed, its egotism and pet- 
tiness. And it is not too much to say that 
in order to understand what is implied by 
the word " Revolution," one could do no 
better than to study the details of this 
strangely monotonous and strangely fasci- 
nating picture of popular wrath and popu- 
lar delusion. 

That German literature during the last 
decade has entered upon a new era of gen- 
uine productivity must have been clear for 
some time past to every intelligent ob- 
server. That this new movement should 
have acquired sufficient strength to pro- 
duce, only a year or two after the triumphs 
achieved by " Heimat " and " Die Weber," 
two dramas of such heroic dimensions and 
such extraordinary power as Hauptmann's 

5 6 Glimpses of 

" Florian Geyer " and Wildenbruch's 
" Heinrich," is nevertheless a surprise, and 
seems to justify the hopes of those who 
see in the present revolt against conven- 
tions the dawn of another epoch of classic 
perfection of form. 

Modern German Culture 57 

AUGUST, 1896. 

UNTIL within a year and a half ago the 
name of Johanna Ambrosius was not 
known outside of the little East Prussian 
village where she herself, as the wife of a 
poor peasant, led a humble and monoto- 
nous existence. To-day her poems have 
passed through the twenty-seventh edition, 
and she is hailed throughout Germany as 
a lyric genius destined to play an import- 
ant part in the literary revival which has 
been so brilliantly initiated by the dramatic 
achievements of Sudermann and his asso- 
ciates. What is it that has given this 
simple peasant woman, whose intellectual 
resources until very recently were confined 
to a few back volumes of the " Garten- 

Glimpses of 

laube," such an extraordinary hold on the 
national heart? What is it that has raised 
her at one stroke far above the host of 
clever and refined singers who, during the 
last thirty years, have re-echoed the melo- 
dies of the great masters? 

The secret, I think, lies in this, that in 
Johanna Ambrosius there has arisen a new 
voice in the struggle for the emancipation 
of the German woman. Whatever one 
may think of this movement, it would be 
folly to deny either its volume or its 
strength. It is naturally strongest in so- 
cialistic circles; indeed, the Social-Demo- 
cratic party is thus far the only political 
organisation which has allowed women a 
considerable share in its meetings and de- 
liberations. But the influence of the wo- 
man movement is by no means confined to 
Socialist gatherings. It pervades the air, 
it is felt in the family, it agitates the univer- 
sities, it has entered the drawing-rooms, it 

Modern German Culture 59 

has deeply affected the novel and the 
drama; everywhere we notice as one of 
the leading forces of the day the striving of 
woman for a fuller and more complete in- 
dividuality. If this were not so, such a 
figure as Sudermann's Magda could not 
have been created. 

There is a good deal of family likeness 
between the heroine of " Heimat " and 
Johanna Ambrosius. The circumstances 
are different, the abiding traits of character 
are the same: in Sudermann's drama, an 
impetuous, unruly girl, who, craving for a 
fuller life than that afforded by " respec- 
table " society, falls a prey to sin, and 
through sin rises to the level of her true 
self; in the East-Prussian peasant home 
which has been and still is the scene of 
Johanna Ambrosius's life, the agonies and 
struggles of a woman who, harbouring in 
herself a world of passion, longing, and 
ideal striving, is smothered by the hard 

60 Glimpses of 

facts of actual starvation, degrading toil, 
and absolute intellectual loneliness until 
at last the long repressed despair breaks 
forth with volcanic power, shakes the very 
foundations of this life, and lifts it into a 
higher sphere. 

Of Johanna's mental development her 
sister, who, it seems, has been the only one 
to stand faithfully by her in all these 
gloomy struggles, has given a sympathetic 
sketch, from which a passage relating to 
the years of girlish maturity and early mar- 
ried life may here be quoted: 

" Even in those early days," she says, 
" we both felt how alone we stood in our 
village surroundings. Our souls began to 
retire within themselves; the longing for 
freedom, for light, for life became irresist- 
ible. Johanna had outgrown the obedi- 
ence demanded by her parents, but oppres- 
sive to body and soul; her own will often 
manifested itself; and, half following her 

Modern German Culture 61 

will, half submitting to the force of cir- 
cumstances, she entered service in the 
house of strangers. Perhaps she hoped to 
find outside of her family what her soul 
craved. She soon returned home, and, in 
order to find freedom, as she thought, she 
accepted the hand of a simple, but good 
and honest peasant lad. By the side of the 
man of her choice Johanna went with eyes 
open into poverty and hardest toil. Proud 
and uncomplaining, she bore the self-chosen 
fate until she lay broken on the ground. 
The whole misery of a life wrestling in vain 
for food had seized upon her. Out of the 
night of these boundless sufferings there 
rose the poet/' 

It would be indelicate to pry into the 
details of the family tragedy which these 
words half disclose and half conceal. Some 
German literary periodicals have already 
given too much publicity to them. From 
the merely personal point of view, it might 

62 Glimpses of 

even seem as though too much sympathy 
had been accorded to Johanna herself, and 
too little to the "simple, but good and hon- 
est peasant " whose fate, by the side of this 
fiery, soaring idealist, appears pathetic in 
the extreme. What makes Johanna Am- 
brosius such a remarkable, nay, inspiring 
figure in the modern woman movement, 
is the fact that her own sufferings, instead 
of embittering her, have opened her heart 
to the woe of all her fellow-sufferers, that 
her own struggles have made her a leader 
in the universal struggle for a fuller hu- 

The most striking note of her poetry, to 
be sure, is one of passionate longing for a 
happiness which she knows can never be 
hers. She fairly revels in the maddening 
consciousness of being forever shut out 
from life's best gifts peace of soul and in- 
tellectual companionship. She consumes 
herself in the thought of what might have 

Modern German Culture 63 

been. There was a time when her heart 
swelled with hope, when the fata morgana 
of love conjured up before her a world of 
bliss and beauty. But all that is now for- 
ever destroyed, and all is dark. " Ah, bind 
my hands with iron chains, lest they draw 
a beloved head to my bosom ! Wall in my 
heart and close it fast, lest the flames of 
love blaze forth from its windows ! Make 
me deaf, make me blind, lest I see happi- 
ness! Oh miserable, God-forsaken child 
that I am ! " She sits at dusk by the hearth, 
and gazes into the flickering fire as it 
dances up and down before her eyes, for 
a moment bringing back the colour of 
youth to her cheeks, awakening in her the 
glow of long-suppressed passion and de- 
sire, and then quickly dying away oh, 
that the raging fire within might consume 
itself as quickly! She consecrates her 
songs to Pain, her best and inseparable 
friend. He stands before her threshold 

64 Glimpses of 

with drawn sword, and wards off whoever 
might disturb them; only his sister Sorrow 
he at times invites to keep them company : 

" Nur manchmal ladet er zu Gaste 
Sich seine Schwester Leid, 
Die bleibt dann lang bei uns zu Raste, 
Und naht fur mich ein Kleid." 

She cries out to God to make an end of 
it; to deliver her at last from ever pressing 
the wounded breast against the rocks, from 
lying bound without being allowed to rest 
her head; to take from her the glowing 
chains which with hellish fire are burning 
deep into her heart. 

Whatever she sees about her assumes 
the melancholy hue of her own darkened 
existence. She tells of how " Mariechen, 
susses Mariechen mein," the fairest girl in 
the village, is plunged into misery by the 
old witch Care; how the happiness of her 
young married life is poisoned by want; 
how the same man who had loved her so 
fervently, embittered and hardened by his 

Modern German Culture 65 

and his children's hunger, turns away from 
her, and at last raises his arm to strike 

" Der Schlag traf gut, nun noch ein Hieb : 
Ade, Du Gliick, gebaut auf Lieb ! 
Die alte Hex' Sorg' in die Faust sich lacht, 
Und schleicht sich weiter durch Nebel und Nacht. 
Was wimmert so schmerzlich im Sternenschein ? 
Ach Mariechen, susses Mariechen mein !'' 

She describes a peaceful farmhouse en- 
closed by wheat-fields. Its white gable 
blinks cheerfully through a cluster of hem- 
locks; like a column of frankincense, the 
smoke rises from the thatched roof and 
loses itself in the evening red; the spring 
water gently trickles over the mossy stones 
of the well; the doves are cooing in their 
cotes, swallows are chasing through the air, 
a cat lies sleepy on the threshold. But 
where is the housewife, where the farm 
hands? From the fields she comes, with 
her child. Cold as marble is her face, her 
forehead overshadowed with grief. Shyly 
she gathers the broken pots and glasses 

66 Glimpses of 

strewn about in the yard. Has a storm 
raged here? Has some evil spirit entered? 
In the arbour lies the husband by the side 
of his bottle. 

With all this gloom, the poetry of Jo- 
hanna Ambrosius as a whole is far from 
having a discouraging or depressing effect. 
There is nothing enervating, nothing dis- 
integrating in it. While often reminding 
us of Heine's truthfulness and simplicity, 
this woman has nothing of Heine's scepti- 
cism. Even in her saddest moods we rec- 
ognise a bravely struggling soul, a char- 
acter faithful to itself, a heart embracing 
all mankind. Her woes have sanctified 
her; they have strengthened her trust in 
the final victory of goodness and right; 
they have fanned in her a burning desire 
to help, to comfort, to inspire. And al- 
though the range of her thought is nar- 
row, she compensates us for this by a fresh- 
ness of feeling which gives even the oldest 

Modern German Culture 67 

truths the stamp of a new acquisition. It 
is indeed touching to hear this daughter of 
the people speak of the exalted mission of 
the poet : " Through sleepless nights in 
the throes of creation he moans for the 
lost Paradise; he weeps for all men, he 
bears the burden of all mankind; he dyes 
the roses with his heart's blood, he bleach- 
es the lilies with his tears; his poems are 
sighs, they are prayers offered up to God 
from the depth of his soul for the sake of 
a suffering world. Oh bear them lovingly 
in your hearts, like your own children! 
You know not from what pains they have 
been born." And who could help being 
moved by that " Last Song " which this 
peasant woman would fain sing, a song 
which shall be wafted through the world 
like a gentle breeze of May, which shall 
bring refreshment to the dying, which shall 
calm all pain and encourage all good fight- 
ers, and which at last shall swell into a 

68 Glimpses of 

raging gale and drive the serpent Sin back 
into the sea? When this song shall be ac- 
complished, the singer herself will break 
her lyre and sing no more; in the forest 
would she be buried, and none should 
know who conceived the song: 

" Im Wald musst ihr verscharren 
Mich heimlich unterm Tann, 
Und Nieraand sollt' erfahren 
Wer dieses Lied ersann." 

It will be of interest to see how Johanna 
Ambrosius will bear the popularity which 
has so suddenly come to her and the hon- 
ours which have been so profusely show- 
ered upon her. She seems great enough 
to justify the hope that recognition will 
bring out in her the joyous rather than the 

Modern German Culture 69 



PROF. ERWIN ROHDE, the distinguished 
classical philologist, has done a good ser- 
vice to students of German civilisation by 
recently publishing, from manuscripts pre- 
served in the Heidelberg University Li- 
brary, the letters relating to one of the 
strangest and saddest episodes in the his- 
tory of Romanticism the love tragedy 
which ended in the suicide of Karoline von 
Gunderode. This is a tragedy not only 
full of historical import, but also of direct 
significance for our own time. For it re- 
veals moods and passions which the ex- 
treme individualism of modern Romanti- 
cists such as Nietzsche and Fbsen has made 
once more a force in social life. 

7 Glimpses of 

Karoline von Gunderode was a worthy 
representative of that brilliant activity dis- 
played by women in the higher concerns 
of life which gave to German culture of the 
beginning of the nineteenth century such 
a decidedly feminine tinge. If she lacked 
the vivacity of her friend Bettina Brentano, 
she also lacked her coquettishness and the- 
atrical mannerism. If she did not have the 
keenness of analysis possessed by Rahel 
Varnhagen, she was also free from Rahel's 
bent for fantastic and hair-splitting specu- 
lation. And to both Bettina and Rahel 
she was superior in sincerity of feeling, 
depth of passion, and true womanly charm. 
She was a genuine poet, not so much in 
what she wrote for the public ear (although 
her poems were admired even by Goethe) 
as in her every-day thoughts, her letters to 
friends, her whole manner of life. It is not 
surprising that her refined beauty and aris- 
tocratic bearing should have attracted the 

Modern German Culture 7 1 

best men of her time. Savigny, the great 
jurist, devoted to her years of chivalric 
friendship. Clemens Brentano, editor of 
the " Wunderhorn," went into raptures 
over her. No man, however, understood 
her so well or stirred her so deeply as the 
one who was to lead her to her own des- 
truction, namely Friedrich Creuzer, the fa- 
mous author of the " Symbolik." 

Creuzer, also, is a typical figure of the 
period preceding the national catastrophe 
of 1806, a period which was as devoid of 
moral vigour as it was rich in aesthetic culti- 
vation. As we see him in his public activ- 
ity, in his far-reaching studies on the re- 
ligion of the ancient Greeks, in his petty 
quarrels with scientific opponents, he ap- 
pears as both a pathfinder and a perverter 
of sound methods of historical investiga- 
tion; as a strange mixture of noble inspira- 
tions and selfish conduct, of mystic intui- 
tion and scholastic pedantry; as a priest of 

72 Glimpses of 

humanity and at the same time as a vain 
professor. One must keep all these con- 
flicting qualities of his in mind in order to 
understand how his relations to Karoline 
von Giinderode came to be what they were. 
When Creuzer, in the spring of 1804, en- 
tered upon his Heidelberg professorship, 
he was thirty-three years old; for half a 
decade he had been united in childless mar- 
riage to a widow, thirteen years his senior. 
Is it surprising that when, on a beautiful 
August day of the same year, on the ter- 
race of Heidelberg castle, he met Karoline 
von Giinderode for the first time, he should 
have experienced an inner revolution such 
as Werther underwent when he for the first 
time saw Lotte? He feels at once that 
from now on there are only two possibili- 
ties : " Heaven or death; there is no mean 
between the two." He flies into the soli- 
tude of the forests in order to read her let- 
ters, and when he looks up to the sky from 

Modem German Culture 73 


her pages, it seems to him as though he 
were looking into the eyes of his beloved. 
He hides her poems on his shelves in order 
to enjoy them alone in the stillness of the 
night. And at last two months after the 
first meeting he informs his wife " that he 
can no longer consider her as his wife, in 
fact, has never considered her as such, but 
that he will forever cherish grateful feel- 
ings towards her; " whereupon the wife, in 
a fit of sudden magnanimity, declares that 
she approves of his sentiment, renounces her 
claims on him, and desires to be in future 
nothing but an older sister to him. In short, 
it seems as though the whole affair were 
to end in happy romantic fashion : husband 
and wife will peacefully separate and an- 
other union be established. Or, to adopt 
Creuzer's own inimitable phraseology, the 
wife will stay in the house " as mother, as 
the manager of the household," while the 
loved one will bring "freedom and poetry" 

74 Glimpses of 

into the husband's life exactly the same 
situation, by the way, which forms the 
basis of the tragic conflict in one of the 
most remarkable realistic dramas of our 
own time, Gerhart Hauptmann's " Ein- 
same Menschen." 

In Creuzer's and Karoline's case, as in 
the modern drama, the serenity of those 
paradisiac dreams soon gives way to 
gloomy forebodings. Sophie, the wife, re- 
tracts her resignation; she is ready to leave 
the house, but in despair only, not in good 
part; she is not willing to tolerate Karoline 
by her side. And Creuzer, impulsive as 
always, and, theoretically at least, of a chiv- 
alrous frame of mind, realises at once that 
he must not force his wife's actions; he is 
unwilling, in his own words, " to demand a 
human sacrifice." Recognising his duty 
towards his wife so clearly, one would 
think that he must see with equal clearness 
his duty towards Karoline: a speedy and 

Modern German Culture 75 

complete rupture of their relations seems 
imperative. But, far from feeling this, 
Creuzer is now all the more eager to re- 
tain Karoline's love. He speaks with the 
utmost disdain of the " abyss of Biirger- 
lichkeit" which forbids a married man to 
think of other women. He talks of dying 
with Karoline. He beseeches her not to 
abandon his " beautiful soul." " I am like 
one of those wooden Silenus figures in 
Plato's 'Symposium' which, mean in them- 
selves, serve as cases for beautiful images 
of gods enclosed in them. The divine im- 
age encased in my poor body is my soul, 
which was capable of feeling your worth." 
He compares Karoline to Raphael's " Po- 
esy"; he glorifies her as the Virgin Mary 
hovering in eternal youth and freedom 
above the clouds: 

" I often appear to myself criminal in 
wishing to draw you down into this do- 
mestic world, when I see how you, a Vir- 

76 Glimpses of 

gin, hover gloriously in the splendour of 
the stars, untouched by the burdens of 
life. And yet, when I think how once it 
was your own will to descend into this 
world of mine, then I rejoice again in the 
consciousness of my courage to die with 

The result of all this reckless playing 
with fire is another meeting of the lovers 
at Frankfort, Karoline's residence. And 
this meeting, of course, gives added vio- 
lence to the flame of passion. Karoline 
appears from now on in Creuzer's letters 
mostly under symbolic names, " The 
Friend," " The Saint," " Poesy," while his 
wife, to denote the hopeless philistinism of 
her character, receives the nickname " The 
Good-Natured One " ; and a separation 
from her, or rather lamentations over the 
impossibility of a separation from her, be- 
come again the burden of Creuzer's talk: 

" Is it right, or is it cruel, that a woman 

Modem German Culture 77 

who has lived through the natural course 
of her history in the love of her first hus- 
band, in children who adore her, in chil- 
dren's children whom she is looking for- 
ward to that this woman should insist 
that a young man is to find the aim of his 
life in brightening and warming a little, 
like a wintry sun, the late autumn and No- 
vember days of her existence? It is right! 
He might have known it in advance. Still, 
my heart, still! It is right! Oh, if she 
only could be a little large-minded or 
thoroughly bad ! But this agonising good- 
nature ! " 

It is not quite clear what ripened in So- 
phie for a second time the decision to give 
way to her favoured rival. Enough that, 
in September, 1805, she took this decision: 
she wrote to Karoline sanctioning her re- 
lation with Creuzer, and expressing the 
hope that he soon might be entirely hers. 
Creuzer on his part even goes so far as to 

78 Glimpses of 

address Karoline as his " beloved wife " ; 
he speaks of the formal dissolution of his 
marriage as soon to be brought about; he 
reports a plan to accept a professorship at 
the University of Moscow so as to spare 
his young bride the difficulties of living 
with him in the old surroundings: all the 
clouds seem to be chased away, the happi- 
ness of the lovers seems assured. All of 
a sudden there is a change in the tone of 
Creuzer's letters. He begins to feel that 
Karoline is too good for him, that he does 
not deserve her; he mentions financial diffi- 
culties that stand in the way of a speedy 
marriage; he seems to think that Karoline 
has no natural taste for the duties of a 
housewife; he has heard a rumour that 
Karoline does not intend to live with him 
as a wife, but plans to accompany him to 
Russia in men's clothes as a student friend; 
he has talked with his friend Savigny about 
the matter, who has convinced him that a 

Modern German Culture 79 

separation from Sophie would be a moral 
wrong. In brief, only two months after 
his wife has expressed her willingness to 
release him, he has practically broken off 
with Karoline; and it is Karoline, not So- 
phie, who sends him the following letter of 
resignation : 

" My whole life remains forever conse- 
crated to thee, beloved sweet friend. Nor 
time nor circumstances shall step between 
us. The loss of thy love I should not be 
able to bear. Promise me never to leave 
me. O life of my life, do not leave my 
soul. See, I feel freer and purer since I 
have renounced all earthly hope. Into hal- 
lowed melancholy has the violent grief 
been dissolved. Fate is conquered. Thou 
art mine, above all fate. Nothing can take 
thee from me, since I have won thee in 
such a manner. Try to gain Sophie's con- 
fidence. Tell her that we have resigned. 
I, too shall write her, in order that peace 

8o Glimpses of 

may be restored to the household and she 
not disturb our relation, which has no 
longer any danger for her." 

It seems incredible that Creuzer's sense 
of honour should not have been sufficient 
to make him respect the obligations laid 
upon him by such an appeal as this. In- 
stead of helping Karoline to live up to her 
noble renunciation, instead of silencing 
once for all his own unruly longings, he 
now more than ever relapses into his ha- 
bitual wavering between sentimental la- 
mentations and passionate protestations of 
love. On Christmas eve he feels in the 
midst of his family " like a pilgrim who, 
on his way to the Holy Land, has been 
captured by a people that worships other 
gods." In the Christmas vacation he goes 
on with his " Symbolik " in constant 
thought of the fair friend to whom, he 
hopes, this book will be something of a 
compensation for all the pain he has given 

Modern German Culture 81 

her. In the following April (1806) he vis- 
its her in Frankfort, and after his departure 
he revels in ecstatic memories of their 
meeting* and in mournful complaints about 
his present loneliness : " Ah, nothing will 
ever satisfy me but this dear, palpable near- 
ness, from which I now have been torn 
away. The present stares blankly at me: 
back into the joys of the past my spirit 
longs to turn. sanctissima virgo, tecum 
moriar lib ens" In June he is in Mann- 
heim and is taken by a friend to the point 
where the Neckar River flows into the 
Rhine. " It is a beautiful place, and I saw 
with deep emotion how the two rivers em- 
brace each other. The impatient longing 
with which they hasten towards one an- 
other was to me a symbol of our life. Ah, 
the fortunate ones, I thought, to attain 
thus to the goal of their desires ! Sadly I 
went away." And when, after all these ap- 
peals to the emotion, Karoline indeed 

82 Glimpses of 

seems to lose her self-control and to re- 
spond in the same passionate vein, how 
does he receive this? 

" For heaven's sake, Lina, do not aban- 
don yourself to such storms of passion ! I 
have burnt all that you wrote to-day, pray- 
ing for your tranquility of mind while the 
flames were consuming your pages. Be- 
loved, I owe you a large debt, a debt equal 
to the value of my own life; but quiet you 
owe to me, and you will give me quiet 
when you see that you owe it to yourself." 

We hasten to the end. On June 29 or 
30 a last meeting of the lovers took place. 
With what feelings they saw each other, in 
what a frame of mind they separated, we 
are unable to tell. Immediately after it 
Creuzer fell into a violent fever. During 
his sickness his friends prevailed upon him 
to make a solemn declaration that he would 
completely and irrevocably break off his 
relations with Karoline. One of these 

Modern German Culture 83 

friends took it upon himself to inform 
Karoline of this decision. In order to 
break the cruel news to her in as gentle a 
manner as possible, the letter containing 
it was addressed to a friend of Karoline's 
with whom she was at the time sojourning. 
These measures of precaution were frus- 
trated. Karoline, who for weeks had been 
waiting for a letter from Creuzer, hastened 
to meet the messenger, took the letter, op- 
ened it in her room, and read her death- 
warrant. She soon came back from her 
room, apparently undisturbed, took leave 
of her friend for a short evening walk 
such as she was in the habit of taking, but 
did not return. On the next morning her 
body was found on the banks of the Rhine. 
She had stabbed herself with the dagger 
which for some time previous she had been 
carrying about her. 

Two months after the death of Karoline 
von Gunderode the battle of Jena was 

84 Glimpses of 

fought. Little as these events seem to have 
in common with each other, it is yet true 
that the battle of Jena exerted a profound 
influence on the whole moral and intellect- 
ual atmosphere which determined the 
tragic fate of the romantic poetess. In the 
national breakdown, in the utter ruin of its 
political existence, the German people re- 
covered its sense of moral dignity and dis- 
cipline which had been obscured by the 
flighty conceptions of an exclusively aes- 
thetic culture; and the Creuzers and Giin- 
derodes were superseded by the Steins and 
the Fichtes. 

Modern German Culture 85 


APRIL, 1897. 

RARELY has the mysterious affinity be- 
tween the extremes of realism and roman- 
ticism been illustrated as strikingly as now 
in the gradual unfolding of Gerhart Haupt- 
mann's poetic genius. Hauptmann is one 
of those fascinating men whose character 
seems to baffle all attempts at rational 
analysis. He is at the same time the most 
modern of the moderns and the most de- 
vout worshipper of the traditions of the 
past, an iconoclast and a dreamer, a pan- 
theist and an inspired interpreter of me- 
diaeval Christianity, a socialist and an up- 
holder of personal freedom, an impression- 
ist painter of the most uncompromising 

86 Glimpses of 

kind and a lyric poet of the deepest feeling 
and the most delicate sensibility. At times 
he speaks as though he saw before him a 
new age of exalted humanity, as though he 
would lead his people forward on the path 
of liberty and spiritual progress; and then 
again he seems like a child lost in the 
wilderness of an outworn civilisation, he 
flees from the shallow brilliancy of modern 
society to the primitive sturdiness of the 
fairy tale, and, in the midst of a career full 
of restless striving and ambition, he dreams 
himself back to the sombre seclusion of his 
Silesian mountain home. He is crude and 
refined, heavy and graceful, pessimistic and 
buoyant, flippant and sublime; and in all 
these changes he is always and unfailingly 
true to himself. 

He began with lurid scenes from con- 
temporary life, in which it was easy to 
detect the influence of Ibsen and Zola. 
But even in the atrocious vulgarity of "Vor 

Modern German Culture 87 

Sonnenaufgang " and in the hopeless 
gloom of " Das Friedensfest " there ap- 
peared a strain quite foreign alike to the 
cynic bitterness of the Norwegian and to 
the proletarian ferociousness of the French- 
man: a deep, silent craving for purity and 
childlike innocence. Next, there followed 
" Einsame Menschen," a masterpiece of 
psychological analysis, vibrating with the 
profoundest chords of modern thought, 
bringing out in figures of wonderful life- 
likeness the tragedy of moral emancipation 
unaided by moral greatness. Then came 
" Die Weber," a modern Dance of Death, 
a cry of sympathy with suffering humanity 
as genuine and heart-stirring as any word 
of lamentation or scorn uttered by the 
prophets of old. Then a strange pair of 
unlike brothers : " Der Biberpelz," a gross 
satire of the Prussian police officer in 
search for crimes of lese-majesty, and 
" Hannele," a glorification of the spiritual- 

88 Glimpses of 

istic elements of the Christian belief. Then 
the historical drama,. " Florian Geyer," a 
work both grand and ordinary, irresistible 
and intolerable, a most faithful perhaps 
too faithful reproduction of the sixteenth 
century, with its democratic aspirations, its 
reformatory zeal, its popular heroism, fa- 
naticism, and savagery, but somehow lack- 
ing in the finer human emotions. And 
now, finally, " Die versunkene Glocke," a 
fantastic vision, transporting us into lonely 
forests haunted by elfs and water-sprites, 
and strangely illumined by the flicker of 
swarming glow-worms. 

It is almost impossible to give an ade- 
quate conception of this " fairy drama " 
which now for months has been delighting 
Berlin audiences. The time of the action 
is somewhere in the Middle Ages. The 
principal character is a figure belonging to 
the race of Faust, Manfred, and Brand: 
Meister Heinrich, a bellfounder in a lonely 

Modern German Culture 89 

village of the Riesengebirge. It is evi- 
dently not long since Christianity made its 
way into these remote regions, for we hear 
that the mountain elfs are disgusted with 
the unaccustomed sight of church-building 
going on in the midst of their retreats, and 
still more with the unaccustomed sound of 
the church bells ringing through the peace 
of the forests. Just now one of these ma- 
licious spirits has seized the opportunity of 
venting his spite. He has lain in wait when 
a bell wrought by Master Henry and des- 
tined for a chapel on the mountain summit 
was being carted up the hill; he has broken 
the wheel of the truck, and has hurled the 
bell and its maker down into the lake. 
Here is the beginning of the action. Hen- 
ry, rallying, but as yet hardly conscious of 
his steps, gropes his way upward again, 
and wanders about in aimless despair 
through the rocky wilderness. Finally he 
sinks down exhausted. His cries of agony 

go Glimpses of 

have been overheard by Rautendelein, a 
strange mixture of elf and maiden; and for 
the first time there has been awakened in 
her breast the dim feeling of a higher life 
and the blind desire to win it. So, when 
the villagers come to carry Henry's nearly 
lifeless body back to the valley, Rautende- 
lein follows them, determined to see and 
to know " the land of men." Dis- 
guised as a servant, she enters the house 
where Henry, attended by his faithful wife, 
lies at the point of death. He is delirious. 
His life seems to him a failure; the comfort- 
ing words of his wife sound to him like 
mockery; he persuades himself that she has 
no conception of what it is to feel the cre- 
ative impulse and to have it checked by 
brutal fate; he is sure that she does not 
understand him, that nobody understands 
him; he curses his work; he wishes to die. 
At this moment Rautendelein appears, and 
the sight of this unbroken youthful life 

Modern German Culture 9 1 

brings back to him his own youthful aspi- 
rations. It is as though Nature herself 
had touched him and renewed his strength, 
as though she beckoned him to throw away 
the commonplace cares and duties of ordi- 
nary social existence and to follow her to 
the heights of a free, unfettered, creative 
activity. He cannot resist. The supreme 
desire for unhampered exercise of his facul- 
ties restores his health; the delirious des- 
pondency leaves him; he is himself again. 
When the scene changes, Rautendelein 
has led him back into the mountains. She 
now appears as his inspiring genius. He 
is in the fulness of his powers; he is raised 
above the petty conflict of good and evil. 
He has won control over the spirits that 
dwell in rock and cavern; with their help 
he is creating a wonder work of art, a 
temple structure on highest mountain 
peak whose melodious chime is to call free 
humanity to the festival of universal broth- 

92 Glimpses of 

erhood. Wrapt up in these estatic visions 
he has entirely lost sight of his former life. 
He seems not to know that once he had 
a loving wife and children. He scorns the 
friendly warning of the village priest, who 
ventures into his enchanted wilderness in 
order to save his soul. He defies the on- 
slaught of the peasants who attempt to 
storm his fastness in order to annihilate the 
godless blasphemer. He quiets occasional 
pangs of conscience by renewed feverish 
work; only at night he lies restless and is 
visited by fearful dreams. More and more, 
however, these evil forebodings get the 
better of him. Again and again he hears 
a strange sound that seems to draw him 
downward, he recognises in it the tolling 
of the bell that lies at the bottom of the 
mountain lake. What causes the bell to 
give the sound? Who is that pale, ghastly 
figure floating toward it and striking its 
tongue? And who are these shadowy 

Modern German Culture 93 

forms of little children, coming slowly and 
sadly toward him, and carrying with great 
effort a heavily filled urn? Breathless with 
horror, he addresses them. " What carry 
ye? " " Father, we carry an urn." " What 
is in the urn? " " Father, something bit- 
ter." "What is the something bitter?" 
" Father, our mother's tears." " Where is 
your mother? " " Where the water-lilies 

Now, at last, Henry sees that he has 
overstepped the bounds set to man. The 
whole wretchedness of his imagined gran- 
deur is revealed to him with terrible clear- 
ness. He drives Rautendelein away with 
calumny and cursing. He destroys with 
his own hand the work which had been to 
him the symbol of a perfect humanity. He 
resolves to descend again to the fellowship 
of mortals. But it is too late. The super- 
human striving has consumed his strength. 
In his last moment Rautendelein appears 

94 Glimpses of 

to him once more; she has returned into 
her own realm, she has become the wife of 
an ugly old water-sprite who had wooed 
her for years. But she is still longing for 
human affections, and she presses a fervent 
kiss upon the lips of the dying one. 

The drama thus hastily outlined is to us 
a messenger of good tidings. It is a 
fresh evidence of a fact which has recently 
become manifest in more ways than one: 
the fact that Germany is preparing again to 
take a leading part in the literature of the 
world. Especially the German realistic 
drama of the last decade has shown a fer- 
tility of motives and a constructive energy 
far superior to that of recent dramatic pro- 
ductions in England or France. But most 
of these realistic dramas are in too pro- 
nounced a manner children of the age to 
have a long life before them; they are 
clever dramatic essays rather on social, re- 
ligious, or philosophical questions of imme- 

Modern German Culture 95 

diate and acute interest than works of art 
which permanently satisfy. In " Die ver- 
sunkene Glocke " for the first time we hear 
once more the unmistakable ring of the 
universally human. Here we are made to 
feel once more the eternal longing of the 
human heart for a happiness that lies be- 
yond the things seen or heard. Here we 
are brought face to face once more with 
an ideal striving far transcending all inter- 
est in so-called questions of the day. Here 
we are indeed reminded of the artistic tem- 
per which created the type of Faust. 

To be sure, the form of this drama is 
too fantastic to appeal to all persons or to 
all times. It needs a special frame of mind 
to find out the instinctive striving after na- 
ture which underlies even its grotesque ar- 
tificialities. German critics have with good 
reason pointed out the affinity between this 
drama and the paintings of Boecklin. 
Hauptmann and Boecklin belong, indeed, 

96 Glimpses of 

together. Both are endowed with an ex- 
traordinary sensibility, both feel an irre- 
pressible desire to reproduce the sounds 
and sights of nature exactly as they hear 
and see them. But both hear and see not 
only the sounds and sights of nature, they 
are equally strongly affected by the dis- 
cordant impressions of their social environ- 
ment; and in order not to be disturbed by 
these, they strain their receptive organs to 
such an extent that the water looks bluer 
to them than it does to the normal eye, 
and the wind roars more wildly to them 
than it does to the normal ear. This is 
especially true of "Die versunkene Glocke." 
There is a note of exaggeration in it which 
takes away from its sincerity. And de- 
lightful as this company of roving, rollick- 
ing, swaggering, half malicious, half good- 
natured earth-spirits is which forms the ele- 
mental background of the dramatic action, 
we are hardly more than amused by it. 

Modem German Culture 97 

The true simplicity of the fairy tale is for 
the most part absent. 

But this objection does not touch the 
central conception of the drama. Haupt- 
mann has created a work which treats the 
old Faust theme of man's superhuman as- 
pirations in a new and fascinating manner. 
We may confidently hope that his youth- 
ful genius, which has given us so much al- 
ready that is fine and true, will give us 
something still finer and truer. He is now 
approaching his full maturity. May he 
live himself out completely and harmoni- 
ously. May he go on, undisturbed by 
fame or slander, unmoved by the wrangle 
between literary cliques, unmindful of the 
meaningless war-cries of romanticism and 
classicism, to bring forth what is in him. 
If he does this, he seems destined to ac- 
complish what his Meister Heinrich strove 
for in vain: to build a temple of art in 
which all ages and all nations may wor- 

98 Glimpses of 

MAY, 1897. 

SINCE the days of Tieck and the brothers 
Schlegel, Germany has produced no man 
of letters who in universality of interests 
and refinement of taste can be compared to 
Herman Grimm. There is no dearth of 
critics who within the limits of their special 
studies have accomplished as much or per- 
haps even more than he. In philosophic 
grasp of abstract intellectual problems, 
men like Kuno Fischer or Rudolf Haym 
are his superiors. In questions touching 
the technical workmanship displayed in 
works of painting or sculpture, his judg- 
ments have not infrequently been over- 
ridden by the verdict of more thoroughly 
trained experts. In the sphere of philo- 

Modem German Culture 99 

logical text criticism, the chosen province 
of nearly all the younger literary historians, 
he has never felt quite at home. What dis- 
tinguishes Herman Grimm from all other 
German scholars of to-day, what gives him 
his unique position in modern life, is the 
fact that he is philosopher, art critic, and 
literary historian in one, that he is an in- 
terpreter of the spiritual ideals of mankind, 
whatever form they may have assumed or 
to whatever age they may belong. He is, 
among living Germans, the most eminent 
advocate of aesthetic culture; the principal, 
if not sole, upholder of the classic tradition 
of Weimar and Jena; the chosen apostle of 
that striving for completeness of person- 
ality without which all special activity must 
of necessity fail to reach out into the high- 
est sphere of human aspirations. 

When men of marked originality deline- 
ate the character of other men, they at the 
same time bring before us their own fea- 

ioo Glimpses of 

tures. Herman Grimm's writings, there- 
fore, although they are almost wholly de- 
voted to the study of the works and lives 
of other writers and artists, at the same 
time give us a remarkably striking picture 
of himself. And it would be difficult to 
state more truthfully and simply the very 
essence of his individuality than by repeat- 
ing what he has said of two men whose 
intellectual kinship with his own nature he 
has often acknowledged: Ralph Waldo 
Emerson and Ernst Curtius. This is his 
characterisation of the American thinker : 
" Emerson nowhere lays down a system. 
It seems as though he were simply acting 
under the impulse of the moment to speak 
out what happens to be uppermost in his 
mind. But if one takes together all that 
he has thus said in the course of a long life, 
the numerous individual parts are seen to 
group themselves into a well rounded, har- 
monious whole. He is imbued with a 

Modern German Culture 101 

wonderful divination of the relationship of 
all moral phenomena. From the very first 
he feels what place belongs to each. Con- 
fusion becomes order before his glance. 
He expresses himself without any special 
exertion. Effortless and gently, as Na- 
ture herself seems to work e-ven where the 
most terrible happens, his sentences chain 
themselves to each other, link by link. He 
never is out of breath; step by step he leads 
us from one thought to another. Always 
he simply speaks his mind, and utterances 
which at first seem strange soon come to 
sound natural and necessary, if one confi- 
dently tries to enter into their meaning.'' 

And these are the words which less than 
a year ago the death of his friend Ernst 
Curtius wrung from his lips : 

" Curtius had something inward in his 
manner. In speaking with him, you often 
remained so long without an answer that 
you might think he had not heard you or 

102 Glimpses of 

not even listened. Then, as if awakening, 
he would give the answer. In general, 
there was something silent in him, and yet 
he found the greatest enjoyment and recre- 
ation in conversing and talking. He had 
seen and experienced much, and he spoke 
of it as though he were gathering old rec- 
ollections for himself. He gladly pointed 
things out and explained, and always in a 
tone as though it was self-evident that his 
opinion was the only true one, that his in- 
sight was the higher one. There was 
something festal in his words and his bear- 
ing. He walked quick and free and joyful, 
as though encompassed by great thoughts. 
If one spoke to him on the street, he would 
seem surprised, and at his friends even he 
would look as though he recognised them 
only just now and were just seeing them 
again after a long separation. The youth- 
fulness of his nature was indestructible. 
Even in his last days he walked about like 

Modern German Culture 103 

one of the Olympians who know nothing 
of death." 

Here we have both the intellectual and 
the emotional side of Herman Grimm's 
own character clearly brought before us. 
Like Emerson, he disdains to bind himself 
to a strict philosophical system; he never 
attempts to formulate a general law of ar- 
tistic or literary development; and yet, in 
analysing and interpreting the great works 
of the world's literature and art, he always 
makes us feel that they are necessary mani- 
festations of a deep, mysterious force which 
regulates all human life. Like Curtius, he 
is essentially a lyric nature; what appeals to 
him in a statue or a poem is the inner vis- 
ion rather than the outward form; what 
attracts him in an artist or a poet is what 
they have to say rather than how they say 
it. Like both Emerson and Curtius, he 
feels truly at home only in the calm world 
of ideas. With the present age and its 

104 Glimpses of 

noisy, breathless activity he has little in 
common. He would flee away from what 
he has called " the deep, inward unrest of 
the moderns, which, at its climax to-day, 
drives us to despair." 

With all this Herman Grimm is not a 
Romanticist of the Ruskinian type. His 
abhorrence of commonplace reality does 
not make him flee into the region of the 
fantastic. From nothing is he further re- 
moved than from the worship of the abnor- 
mal. On the contrary, if there is anything 
that stands out as the central thought of 
his writings, it is the conviction that the 
true leaders of mankind are only those 
men who have given expression to the uni- 
versally human, who are intelligible to all 
ages and all races, who appeal to the simp- 
lest and most fundamental of feelings. And 
although the range of his vision is well- 
nigh limitless, although he is able to sym- 
pathise with the most different types of 

Modern German Culture 105 

character, with Erasmus and Diirer, with 
Saraceni and Carstens, with Shakspere 
and Voltaire, with Overbeck and Boecklin, 
yet the true object of his whole literary ac- 
tivity is to rivet the eyes of the modern 
world upon those eternal heights where 
stand the ideal figures of a harmonious hu- 
manity a Homer, a Dante, a Raphael, a 

What is Grimm's attitude toward these 
greatest of men? 

Until the middle of the eighteenth cen- 
tury all literature and art was looked upon 
merely as the creation of a few isolated 
individuals. Herder, Winckelmann, and 
the Romanticists have taught us to under- 
stand these few great individuals as pro- 
ducts of the physical, social, and mental 
conditions of the masses from whom they 
sprang, as spokesmen of their time, as rep- 
resentatives of wide-spread intellectual 
movements; and the works of these men 

io6 Glimpses of 

they have taught us to view less as pro- 
ceeding from the conscious effort of pri- 
vate individuals than as born from the in- 
stinctive longings of the national spirit. 
Herman Grimm has by no means thrown 
away the invaluable insight gained by Her- 
der and his followers. He would not have 
been a faithful keeper of the inheritance be- 
queathed to him by his father and his uncle, 
Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm, if he had not 
adhered to their belief in the inseparable 
union of national instincts and social cur- 
rents with individual endeavour. Indeed, 
whatever may be said from the merely tech- 
nical point of view against his first great 
book, the "Life of Michael Angelo," it 
would be preposterous to deny that here 
we have one of the few biographies of the 
world's literature which show us a man in 
the very centre of the conflicting tenden- 
cies of his time, or which bring out the very 
essence of a given age in the experiences 

Modern German Culture 107 

and aspirations of an individual life. And 
not even Taine could have expressed more 
tersely the overwhelming influence which 
the milieu exerts upon personality than 
these words from Grimm's essay on Carlo 
Saraceni : 

" It would be a mistake to speak of the 
inevitable decline of Italian art after the 
death of Leonardo, Raphael, Correggio, 
Michael Angelo, and Titian, in the sense 
as though in these five men Art had ex- 
hausted herself. Who will say that the 
creative power of nature is limited to the 
production of a certain number of great 
men? If we nevertheless speak of the inev- 
itable decline of Italian art at that time, 
we mean by it that, if in those days a genius 
had been born, as it well might have been, 
it would not have been able to unfold itself, 
because the force of circumstances would 
not have permitted it." 

Yet this very affinity between Grimm and 

io8 Glimpses of 

Taine in philosophic doctrine brings out all 
the more clearly the contrast between 
Grimm and Taine in philosophic temper. 
Taine thinks as a scientist; Grimm thinks 
as an artist. For Taine the general move- 
ment is of prime importance; Grimm lays 
the chief emphasis upon the individual who 
represents the general movement. Taine 
is greater in analysing men who seem to 
have been nothing but tools of the intel- 
lectual or moral development of mankind, 
whose strength seems to have been ab- 
sorbed by living out a certain phase of the 
world's history; Grimm is greater in depict- 
ing men who seem to stand by themselves, 
who seem to have taken rescue from the 
whirlpool of circumstance and fate into the 
serene regions of personal freedom. 

Two types of these greatest of men are 
Grimm's particular favourites. The first 
type is represented by Michael Angelo and 
Goethe. Men like them take hold of life 

Modem German Culture 109 

in all its varied relations; they are of the 
world; they try themselves in the most dif- 
ferent fields of activity; they might equally 
well be statesmen, conquerors, artists, or 
philosophers; they show the impress of a 
continual grappling with new problems; it 
is impossible to understand their works 
without a full knowledge of their lives; the 
artist in them, however great, is yet of less 
significance to us than the man. The sec- 
ond type is that of men who, however 
stormy their existence in reality may be, 
as artists seem to be wholly independent of 
earthly vicissitudes. They are men who 
" aspire to belong to themselves in order to 
give form to what fills their imagination." 
They hardly seem to touch the ground; 
their spirits dwell above the earth, and their 
works, having been conceived in those 
higher regions " where the pure forms 
live," have something impersonal, one 
might say angelic, in them. Such men 
were Schiller and Raphael. 

no Glimpses of 

Which of these types Herman Grimm 
values most it would be hard to say. Al- 
though he has treated most fully the two 
men belonging to the former class, Michael 
Angelo and Goethe, one might almost feel 
inclined to infer from the peculiarly deep 
and mellow tone which pervades his " Life 
of Raphael," that his heart beats still more 
strongly for men of the latter stamp. And 
it seems as though we had a right to hope 
that he will be spared to give us an equally 
fine characterisation, and one as deeply felt, 
of the great German idealist, of Schiller. 
More than any other living man does 
Grimm seem predestined to bring the 
artist Schiller within the reach of modern 
feeling. For no other living man has the 
same wonderful faculty of creating Stim- 
mung which he himself ascribes to Em- 
erson : 

" As the night-wind passing through the 
woods and over the meadows comes to us 

Modern German Culture 1 1 1 

laden with the sweet breath of trees and 
grasses and flowers which we have not seen, 
so he surrounds us with the atmosphere of 
things as if they were in reality near us." 

Herman Grimm is something vastly 
more than a mere analyser and interpreter 
of other men's works. He is a creative 
artist; he is a portrait painter of consum- 
mate skill and refinement. And he is more 
than a portrait painter; he is equally ex- 
quisite in the landscape, in still life, even in 
heroic scenes. He possesses that delicate 
receptivity which enables the true artist 
to hear and see where other men are blind. 
He has the magic gift of making all things 
seem animate. By a word, by a mere in- 
terjection he transports his reader to the 
remotest times and lands; the strangest 
sights he makes familiar; he gives us a 
sense of being at home with the mighty 
shades of history. He is, in short, a repro- 
ductive genius such as there have been very 


Glimpses of 

few in any age and among any people; and 
his writings will be reckoned in times to 
come with the finest productions of that 
wonderful epoch of poetry of which he and 
Paul Heyse are perhaps the last afterglow. 

Modem German Culture 113 


AUGUST, 1897. 

WHAT in contemporary Germany most 
forcibly strikes one who has been out of its 
reach for some time is its intense modern- 
ness. It seems as though within twenty- 
five years the country had completely 
changed its moral complexion, as though 
it had leaped at a bound from a compara- 
tively patriarchal condition into the very 
midst of modern capitalism and industrial- 
ism. That the very rapidity of this devel- 
opment has destroyed a good deal of what 
constituted the principal charm of German 
life in the time of our fathers, it would be 
idle to deny. The average German of to- 

14 Glimpses of 

day, at least if he be selected from the high- 
er classes, is not any more the youthful en- 
thusiast and idealist of the old liberal type; 
he is rather a shrewd observer and a cool- 
headed manager of affairs, who despises the 
Greeks for having gone to war without 
having provided themselves with the nec- 
essary wherewithal. And the average Ger- 
man home of the same stratum of society, 
far from being distinguished for its sim- 
plicity and frugality, is rather marked by 
a degree of high living and display that 
would have astounded the contemporaries 
of Freiligrath and Platen. Whatever one 
may think of the present Emperor, he cer- 
tainly is an adequate representative of an 
age full of restless ambition, overflowing 
with vitality, seeking new avenues of ac- 
tivity in every direction, luxurious, revel- 
ling in success and enjoyment, but some- 
how lacking in the finer aspirations and 
feelings. And no truer artistic index of 

Modem German Culture 1 1 5 

this newest phase of German life could 
have been found than the gorgeous monu- 
ment which, by his Majesty's decree, has 
been erected in front of the austere old 
Hohenzollern castle in memory of Em- 
peror William I the " Wilhelm in der 
Lowengrube," as Berlin popular humour 
has dubbed it, on account of the roaring 
lions that surround the equestrian statue 
of the Emperor himself a work so pom- 
pous and supercilious that one rubs one's 
eyes to realise that this is meant to be the 
simple, good old man whose sole ambition 
it was to perform his daily duty well. 

Fortunately signs are not lacking that all 
this outward display has not yet deeply af- 
fected the nation as a whole, so that, as it 
has been the result of the sudden accumu- 
lation of wealth it will pass away with the 
gradual absorption of this wealth by the 
masses. For alongside of the great indus- 
trial and commercial prosperity there has 

n6 Glimpses of 

come an intellectual awakening also which, 
although it has not had the same outward 
effect thus far, cannot fail to exert its in- 
fluence on the future. I refer to the educat- 
ing and humanising work done by the So- 
cialist workmen clubs; to the extraordinary 
advances made by the woman movement; 
to the realistic wave in educational meth- 
ods that set in with the school legislation 
of 1892; to the new public activity of the 
Church, as shown on the one hand in the 
great philanthropic undertakings of the 
conservative Pastor von Bodelschwingh, 
and on the other in the efforts of the lib- 
eral Pastor Naumann to create a national 
workingmen's party; and, above all, to the 
new literary movement. 

It is, indeed, a matter for national re- 
joicing that just at this time two men of 
such profound earnestness of purpose and 
of such signal ability to grasp the one thing 
needful have come to the front as Haupt- 

Modem German Culture 1 1 7 

mann and Sudermann. Both men are now 
approaching the zenith of their power; both 
may look back upon a career of constantly 
ascending achievements. Hauptmann has 
risen from the hopelessness of " Vor Son- 
nenaufgang " to the vita nuova of the " Ver- 
sunkene Glocke " ; Sudermann, from the 
bitter sarcasm of " Sodoms Ende " to the 
Messianic forebodings of his " Johannes." 
Both seem predestined to conciliate the 
ideals of the old patriarchal Germany with 
the unruly claims and strivings of the new 
industrial Germany. And even now they 
seem to be nearer that harmonious view of 
life which is the indispensable condition for 
the creation of truly great works of art 
than their master Ibsen, who, by his un- 
compromising radicalism, is prevented from 
ever fully gratifying that most natural and 
most human demand of the ordinary man, 
the desire to be elevated and edified. 
The literary career of both Hauptmann 

Glimpses of 

and Sudermann has from the very first 
been distinguished by a deep moral fer- 
vour, by a holy zeal for truth, by a passion- 
ate longing for purity of thought and life; 
and even their darkest and seemingly hope- 
less pictures of social distress and rotten- 
ness have a glow of that enthusiasm which 
makes us see a new heaven and a new earth. 
What could be gloomier or more de- 
pressing than the awful scenes of popular 
misery and degradation that are rolled up 
before us in Hauptmann's " Die Weber"? 
Yet never has there been produced a work 
of art which appealed more strongly to our 
moral instincts. Never has Poetry lifted 
her voice more solemnly for justice and 
humanity; never has she appeared more 
truly as a messenger from above, as an 
angel of divine wrath, as a prophetess of 
eternal judgments. What could be more 
oppressive and excruciating than the men- 
tal agonies portrayed in the same author's 

Modern German Culture 1 1 9 

" Einsame Menschen " agonies of souls 
blindly struggling for freedom and light, 
craving for a life in the spirit, for complete- 
ness of existence, revelling in the thought 
of a new, all-embracing religion, but totally 
unable to cope with existing conditions, 
and therefore ground down under the 
wheels of inexorable reality? Yet I doubt 
whether there are many works of literature 
that preach more forcibly the necessity of 
self-discipline, that impress us more deeply 
with the beauty of simple right-mindedness, 
or that glorify more truthfully a brave ag- 
gressive idealism. 

Sudermann's artistic temper is diametric- 
ally opposed to that of Hauptmann. 
Hauptmann is lyrical, Sudermann is rhe- 
torical; Hauptmann is a strange combina- 
tion of sublime visions and cruel disen- 
chantments, of fantastic mysticism and im- 
pressionist realism, of pantheistic ideals and 
a hidden longing for the lost belief of 

1 20 Glimpses of 

childhood; Sudermann is absolutely 
straightforward, there are no mysterious 
recesses in him, he is a single-minded 
champion of intellectual freedom and un- 
hampered individuality. Yet in spite of 
these differences in the artistic temper of 
the two men, the moral effect of Suder- 
mann's dramas is very similar to that of 
Hauptmann's. Take such a play as " Die 
Ehre " with its lurid descriptions of base- 
ness and debauchery. The effect of this 
drama is not debasing or enervating. On 
the contrary, it is stimulating and stirring 
in the highest degree. It affects us as a 
formidable arraignment of social conditions 
which it is for us to set right; like Schiller's 
youthful dramas, it fills us with moral in- 
dignation; it inspires us with a solemn de- 
termination to put our hand to the plough 
which is to rake up the barren field of hu- 
manity and open it to the wholesome influx 
of light and air. Or take the most widely 

Modern German Culture 1 2 1 

known of Sudermann's earlier works, 
" Heimat." What gives to this drama its 
distinguishing feature and its abiding value 
is that here we have not merely a domestic 
tragedy of the order of " The Second Mrs. 
Tanqueray," not merely a breaking loose 
from family ties that have become intoler- 
able, not merely a revolt against a paternal 
authority which stifles individual life, but 
beside and above all this an ever-present 
sense of the sacredness of personal obliga- 
tions and a recognition of the supreme 
duty of faithfulness to one's higher self. 

Indeed, it is not surprising that these two 
men, Hauptmann and Sudermann, should 
have come to be acknowledged as the real 
leaders in the new literary movement of 
Germany. From the very first they have 
given a voice to the hopes, longings, and 
perplexities bound up with the essentially 
modern problems of modern life; and 
nearly every new work of theirs has marked 

122 Glimpses of 

a step forward, has brought them nearer to 
that comprehensiveness of view from which 
the conflicts of existence appear not any 
more as irreconcilable and permanent, but 
as fleeting discords dissolving into the 
strains of the world's universal symphony, 
thereby increasing its volume and height- 
ening its beauty. 

While youngest Germany is thus work- 
ing out its destiny under auspices upon 
the whole encouraging, old Germany is by 
no means dead. Some days ago I had a 
glimpse of it, when Herman Grimm gave 
me a drama written by his wife, Giesela von 
Arnim, the daughter of Bettina, which he 
himself, since her death some eight years 
ago, has edited with loving care. Her- 
man Grimm himself is a noble representa- 
tive of that golden age of letters at the be- 
ginning of this century, when it was still 
possible for the man of culture to develop 
all his faculties into a harmonious whole; 

Modern German Culture 123 

and as he sat opposite me in his study, talk- 
ing in his fascinating manner a combina- 
tion of frankness, melancholy, gracefulness, 
benignity, and humour about his hopes 
for America, about the formalism of mod- 
ern philological learning, about his uncle 
Jacob, his father, Bettina, and other noble 
shades of the past, it seemed to me that I 
had never seen a man who was so perfect 
an embodiment of mental and moral refine- 
ment, or such a living protest against the 
materialism of the day. Giesela must have 
been a woman in every way worthy of a 
man like Herman Grimm and in every 
way worthy of the noble traditions implied 
by the name of Arnim. And we probably 
do not go astray in thinking that it is partly 
the inherited longings and aspirations of 
the Arnim family which in this posthumous 
drama of hers (the work of decades, as her 
husband tells us) have found a supreme 
poetic expression. 

124 Glimpses of 

Its title is "Alt Schottland"; its plot cen- 
tres around the futile efforts of Charles Ed- 
ward, the last Stuart pretender, to recon- 
quer the throne of his fathers. The con- 
flict which pervades the action is similar to 
that now being waged between the old 
Germany and the new: on the one hand, 
chivalrous old Scotland, with its mountains 
and lakes, its legends and songs, its se- 
cluded country homes, its faithfulness and 
devotion; on the other, commercial Eng- 
land, with its highly developed city life, its 
party struggles, its popular freedom, its 
selfishness and greed. In the midst of this 
conflict there stands a figure of wonderful 
impressiveness and pathos: Lord Jacob 
Mac Orn, an old Scotch nobleman whose 
house is drawn into the ruin of the luckless 
dynasty with which all his best feelings are 
associated. Herman Grimm makes it prob- 
able that this Scottish lord is a composite 
portrait, as it were, of Giesela's father, 

Modern German Culture 125 

Achim von Arnim, and of Jacob Grimm. 
Like Jacob Grimm, he is a silver-haired pa- 
triarch, revelling in the traditions of the 
past and feeling nowhere happier than in 
the quiet realm of his library. Like Achim 
von Arnim, he is an uncrowned king, un- 
disputed lord of his estate and his family, 
with every fibre of his being bound to his 
native soil, but his face turned toward the 
regions of the infinite and the eternal. A 
cousin of his, instigated by his English wife, 
intrigues against him, seeking to put him- 
self in possession of his estate. The law- 
suit about the ownership of this estate, 
which has been going on for some time, 
would undoubtedly have been decided in 
Lord Jacob's favour if the perfidious Eng- 
lish woman had not managed to destroy 
the documentary evidence; so that the case 
cannot be settled by the courts, but has to 
be submitted to the good pleasure of the 
King. And since Lord Jacob is reported 

126 Glimpses of 

to have given shelter in his castle to the 
fugitive Charles Edward, the King decides 
against him. 

The scene where the old nobleman, upon 
receipt of the fatal news, takes leave of the 
home of his ancestors, and, surrounded by 
his family and his servants, goes out into 
the world, is the climax of the play and 
one of the most affecting in dramatic lit- 
erature. The faithless cousin and his wife 
are staying as guests in the house, for it 
is the old patriarch's birthday and a gay 
festival has been planned by the household. 
But now the guests have suddenly become 
the owners, and the festival is changed to 
a funeral. It seems as though the old 
squire could not tear himself away from 
the spot where his whole life has been spent 
so honourably and fruitfully. He stops at 
every nook and corner of the ancestral hall; 
he addresses the chairs, the tables hallowed 
by sacred memories; he lingers over the 

Modern German Culture 127 

thought of the beloved ones that have 
passed beyond from out these walls. At 
last, when he comes to the place where, 
years ago, he pressed the last kiss upon 
the lips of his wife, he faints away. He is 
thought to be dead. The children and the 
household burst into cries of mingled grief 
and wrath. Only Elinor, his heroic daugh- 
ter, feels it cannot be the last. She kneels 
down at his side; she throws her arms 
around him; she calls up before him the 
form, the voice of her mother; she strikes 
on the harp the tune of " Old Scotland," 
an ancient national hymn which seems to 
voice the feelings of this family in all great 
crises. And now the old man rises as in a 
trance; he grasps the harp himself and fin- 
gers it mightily; the whole household 
breaks out with fervent passion in the be- 
loved hymn, and thus, supported by his 
sons, and followed by his faithful folk, he 
strides away, a Caesar, a conquerer of worlds 
invisible ! 

128 Glimpses of 

Truly, the whole Ibsenite company of 
cynics, modern prophets, and would-be re- 
formers seem to sink into nothingness if 
brought face to face with characters of 
such genuine grandeur as this simple-mind- 
ed country nobleman of the old school; and 
it is devoutly to be hoped that the rapid 
modernisation of her social conditions 
through which Germany is at present pass- 
ing, will not lead her away from the ideals 
of life which this man so superbly repre- 

Modern German Culture 129 


JANUARY, 1898. 

THE rapidity with which things have been 
moving in Germany since the final estab- 
lishment of political unity, in 1870, is truly 
astonishing. Thirty years ago no one 
would have dreamed of the possibility of 
English commerce ever being seriously 
threatened by Germany ; to-day the German 
flag is the principal rival of the Union Jack 
in nearly every quarter of the globe. At 
the Centennial Exposition of 1876 the 
German industrial exhibit was character- 
ised by the German commissioner himself 
as " cheap and worthless " ; at Chicago, in 
1894, German manufactures formed in 
quality as well as bulk perhaps the most 

130 Glimpses of 

noteworthy part of the whole exposition. 
Twenty years ago hardly a woman student 
was to be found at the German universities; 
during the current semester there are two 
hundred women hearers at the University 
of Berlin alone. Fifteen years ago the 
repertoire of the German stage depended, 
apart from Shakspere and the German 
classics of the eighteenth century, largely 
on Norwegian and French importations; 
to-day Sudermann and Hauptmann are be- 
ing brought out in London and Paris, and 
in Germany itself there has rallied around 
their names a new dramatic school, thor- 
oughly German, thoroughly realistic, and 
thoroughly alive to the vital questions of 
the day. 

One of the latest productions of this new 
school " Mother Earth," a tragedy by 
Max Halbe has recently been received 
with such general approval, both by the 
critics and the public of the great centres 

Modern German Culture 131 

of German culture, that it may fairly be 
accepted as representative of the prevail- 
ing literary drift of the present generation. 
Halbe is not a novice in dramatic art. 
Among his earlier dramas there are at least 
three of decided individuality and power: 
" The Upstart " (1889), a fearful picture of 
elemental passions burying a German peas- 
ant home in wreck and ruin; " Icedrif tings " 
(1892), a merciless exposition of the moral 
rottenness which, according to Halbe, has 
undermined the very breastworks of mod- 
ern society, so that they will surely crumble 
away when the autumnal floods of popular 
revolt are coming; " Youth " (1893), a fas- 
cinating though depressing tale of a boyish 
love heedlessly rushing into sin and disas- 
ter. But only with " Mother Earth " has 
Halbe struck a theme which leads into the 
very midst of the great struggle that di- 
vides modern Germany into two hostile 
camps, the struggle between the traditions 
of the past and the ideals of the future. 

i3 2 Glimpses of 

The particular form which this struggle 
assumes in the present case is the conflict 
between love pure and simple, based upon 
instinct and the emotions, and the subli- 
mated love of intellectual companionship. 

Paul Warkentin, the son of an East El- 
bian country gentleman (all these modern- 
est Germans are East Elbians), became ac- 
quainted, while studying at Berlin, with a 
young woman of superior intellect and 
will-power, Hella Bernhardy by name. The 
daughter of a university professor, she had 
from childhood on led a city life, and being 
of an almost masculine bent of mind, had 
early become absorbed in the problems of 
the day, particularly in the woman move- 
ment. To Paul, the dreamy, undeveloped 
country boy, she opened a new world of 
ideas; and the natural consequence was 
their engagement and subsequent marriage. 
The latter, however, was not accomplished 
without a violent catastrophe. For Paul's 

Modern German Culture 133 

father, who naturally wished his son to be 
his successor in the management of the es- 
tate, insisted on his marrying one of the 
girls of the neighborhood, Antoinette, a 
playmate of Paul's in his country school- 
days, to whom he had been as much as en- 
gaged when he left for the university. And 
when Paul refused both to marry Antoi- 
nette and to assume the management of 
the estate, the irascible old gentleman for- 
bade him his house. 

All this has happened some ten years 
ago. Since then Paul and his wife have 
plunged into the exciting life of Berlin 
journalism, they have been editing a paper 
bearing the suggestive name of Women's 
Rights, and, if we may trust Hella's own 
statements, have played a considerable part 
in radical politics. Now the father has sud- 
denly died; and, for the first time since his 
marriage, Paul re-enters the house of his 
ancestors to pay the last homage to the de- 

134 Glimpses of 

parted one. Hella accompanies him, al- 
though she hates to leave the city, and be- 
grudges the delay which this trip will cause 
in the printing of her next editorial in 
Women's Rights. However, to recompense 
herself for this intellectual sacrifice, she has 
brought with her a young admirer of hers, 
who will help her reading proof while Paul 
is busy with the funeral arrangements or 
receives visits of condolence ! Paul, on the 
other hand, with the first step over the 
threshold of his old home, feels himself 
drawn back into the spell of the long-neg- 
lected but ever-precious recollections of his 
youth. And so it is not surprising that 
husband and wife do not harmonise as well 
in these new, quiet surroundings as they 
seemed to do in the bustling stir of the 
capital. In fact, they are at odds in small 
things as well as great. Paul is deeply 
touched at the sight of the parlour chande- 
lier lit in his honour by the old maiden aunt, 

Modern German Culture 135 

his foster-mother; Hella thinks such senti- 
mentality ridiculous. Paul comes in, cov- 
ered with snow and glowing with delight 
over a ride he has taken on horseback 
through the wintry landscape, the first one 
for ten years : " Ah, you don't know what 
it is to be a man until you feel a horse un- 
der you ! " Hella wishes herself to be back 
at her desk in the editor's office. And 
when Hella reminds her husband of the 
days when they were still battling shoulder 
to shoulder in the good fight for the bet- 
terment of the race, he breaks out : " Fight 
for the betterment of the race? You had 
better speak of the dissipation of my ener- 
gies, the benumbing of my natural instincts, 
the bankruptcy of my moral life that is 
what has been the result of this artificial 
existence of ours, this continual restless- 
ness, this bookishness, these airy abstrac- 
tions, this cutting loose from the soil where 
our true strength is rooted." 

i3 6 Glimpses of 

It is after one of these scenes (needless to 
say!) that Antoinette, the love of Paul's 
boyhood, appears. After having been jilted 
by Paul, the impetuous girl, out of sheer 
despair, had thrown herself away on the first 
man that asked for her hand, a worthless, 
rollicking, dissipated Junker of the neigh- 
bourhood; and since then she has been lead- 
ing a wretched and ignominious life, hating 
herself, her husband, the world. Now she 
sees Paul again, and his face at once re- 
veals to her his history. " One consola- 
tion is left me," she tells him; " you have 
made me unhappy, but you are unhappy 
too ! And to enjoy that I am here ! " Paul, 
on his part, is transfixed. All his ideals of 
an active and useful life, all the traditions 
of his home, with its friendly human inter- 
course, its naturalness, its honesty and 
soundness, seem to him to have taken form 
in this daughter of his own native soil, this 
superb, beautiful woman, all the more beau- 

Modern German Culture i37 


tiful to him for her grief. For she is griev- 
ing for him! She might have been his! 
And he has thrown her away to attach him- 
self to a mere shadow, to a sexless being in 
whose veins there flows no blood, and 
whose brain is thinking thoughts that have 
no meaning for him ! 

Up to this point the action of the play is 
perfectly consistent, in a way even fascinat- 
ing; for Halbe is a master of those little illu- 
minating touches which bring out with life- 
like energy the great contrast that pervades 
the whole drama. But now we have ar- 
rived at the crucial point of the plot. What 
is Paul to do? Is he to leave Hella and re- 
turn to his first love, or is he to remain 
faithful to his marital vow and suppress his 
instinctive longings? Either solution, it 
seems to me, would have been artistically 
possible, and to a degree even satisfac- 
tory. For Hella appears from the very 
first so entirely devoid not only of womanly 

138 Glimpses of 

grace, but of womanly feeling also, so 
utterly incapable of even understanding her 
wifely duties, that one would greet Paul's 
deserting her for Antoinette almost with 
joy, savage though this joy might be. It 
would be a return to nature to undefiled, 
sensuous, exuberant nature; it would be 
violence, but it would be violence that 
overturns a false, a vicious order of things, 
that sets things into their right relations. 
On the other hand, if Paul and Antoinette 
were to renounce each other, this, too, 
would be in a way a satisfactory ending. 
It would be a moral victory a victory of 
duty over instinct. Both Paul and An- 
toinette would return to their daily tasks, 
enriched and strengthened by the rapturous 
feelings which the assurance of their spir- 
itual inseparableness has brought them. 
And both would find ample opportunity for 
making humanity reap the fruits of their 
bitter experience Paul by devoting him- 

Modern German Culture 1 39 

self with a higher heart and a nobler pur- 
pose to the cause for which he has been 
working these last ten years; Antoinette by 
giving herself to that most womanly of oc- 
cupations, the healing of wounds and the 
relieving of distress. 

Halbe has chosen to follow neither of 
these two lines of thought. Instead, he 
makes the two lovers go hand in hand into 
death, " return to Mother Earth," as they 
say themselves. This seems to me, even 
apart from the melodramatic manner in 
which it is brought about, an utterly 
indefensible ending of the play, for it 
is in vain that Halbe tries to justify 
it by Hella's unwillingness to relieve her 
husband from his vows. Its true reason 
(not justification) lies in the fact that 
Halbe, like nearly all the other repre- 
sentatives of youngest Germany, is given 
over to a hopeless fatalism which makes 
him shrink from any kind of free moral 

14 Glimpses of 

decision. And here, too, is to be sought 
the reason for the inexpressible gloom 
which nearly all the productions of this 
latest literary school exert upon us. No 
one would deny the power and bril- 
liancy of these young writers, no one could 
help feeling grateful for the new life which 
they have infused into the drama. Works 
like Hartleben's " Hanna Jagert," like 
Hirschfeld's "Die Mutter," like Halbe's 
" Jugend " and " Mutter Erde " are symp- 
toms of a literary activity that promises 
much. But these promises will not be 
fully realised until the Germans have, once 
for all, cast the pessimism of Ibsen and 
Tolstoi behind them, until they have 
learned once more to believe in moral free- 
dom, until they once more shall dare to 
defy reality. This it is that gives to works 
like Hauptmann's " Versunkene Glocke," 
and Sudermann's " Johannes," such a great 
symptomatic significance. For here we 

Modern German Culture 141 

feel indeed the pulse of a new time, here we 
see clearly the beginnings of a new 

Glimpses of 


FEBRUARY, 1898. 

THE cable has informed us that Suder- 
mann's " Johannes," on its first production, 
on January 16, in the Deutsches Theater of 
Berlin, in spite of the elaborate stage set- 
ting, and in spite of the superb acting of 
Josef Kainz and Agnes Sorma, was at least 
a partial failure. If this be true, one can- 
not help thinking that the failure was due 
chiefly to the fact that the audience, 
through the attempted prohibition of the 
performance by the police, had been led to 
expect something like a Biblical extrava- 
ganza, and was naturally loath to be put 
off with a religious drama of deep poetic 
feeling. The lover of literature, and the 

Modern German Culture 143 

lover of German literature in particular, 
will judge this play differently; he will carry 
away from its reading a sense of profound 
gratitude to Sudermann for having once 
more (and this time more emphatically than 
ever) stepped forward as a leader in the up- 
ward, idealistic movement which, in vari- 
ous ways, had made itself felt for some time 
past until last year it broke forth with an 
overpowering wealth of poetry in Haupt- 
mann's " The Sunken Bell." 

Sudermann's John the Baptist is indeed 
a counterpart to Hauptmann's Henry, the 
bell-founder. The fate of both is genuinely 
tragic. The mediaeval mystic succumbs in 
striving for an artistic ideal too grand and 
too shadowy for human imagination. The 
Jewish prophet succumbs in striving for a 
moral ideal too visionary and too austere 
for human happiness. Both lose faith in 
themselves and in their mission, and both 
rise through their very failure to the height 

144 Glimpses of 

of true humanity. Nothing is more im- 
pressive in Sudermann's drama than the 
way in which this disenchantment of the 
prophet with himself, this gradual awaken- 
ing to the sense of his fundamental error, 
and the final bursting forth of the true light 
from doubt and despair, are brought before 

In the beginning we see the preacher in 
the wilderness. He has gathered about 
himself the laden and the lowly. With 
burning words he speaks to them of the 
woe of the time, of the misery of the people 
trodden into the dust both by the foreign 
conqueror and by its own rulers, tormented 
by its traditional obedience to a heartless, 
inexorable law. And he holds out to them 
the vision of the deliverer and avenger that 
is to come : the Messiah, clad in splendour, 
like the King of the heavenly host, the 
cherubim around him on armoured steeds 
and with flaming swords, ready to crush 

Modern German Culture 145 

and to slaughter. Yet, irresistible and in- 
toxicating as his harangues are, an occa- 
sional look, an occasional word betrays even 
here that his faith is not born of a free and 
joyous surrender to the divine, but of a 
dark, brooding fanaticism, and we feel in- 
stinctively that it will not stand the test of 

Next he appears in the streets of Jeru- 
salem, inciting the populace to revolt 
against Herod and his lustful house, es- 
pecially against the scandalous marriage in- 
to which the tetrarch has just entered with 
Herodias, the divorced wife of his own 
brother, and which he wishes to have sanc- 
tioned by the synagogue. But here again 
it is the blind fanatic rather than the in- 
spired leader whom we hear in John's lan- 
guage. Having led the infuriated mob to 
the King's palace, he is at a loss what to 
do, he feels lonely in the midst of the surg- 
ing crowd, he longs for his rocks in the 

146 Glimpses of 

wilderness; and when the Pharisees take 
this opportunity to embarrass him by mock- 
ing questions about the new Law the ad- 
vent of which he has been holding out to 
his hearers, he has no answer. Just then 
there is heard out of the midst of the popu- 
lace the voice of a Galilean pilgrim: 
" Higher than Law and Sacrifice is Love ! " 
It is the message of him whose coming 
John has been preaching without divining 
his true call. This word strikes deep into 
his soul, all the deeper since he evidently 
himself has all along been dimly groping 
for a similar thought. For the first time 
he doubts his own mission, for the first 
time there looms up before him the vision 
of something more exalted than his own 
dream of the Messiah. 

Again he rises to his full power as a hero 
of asceticism in his interview with Hero- 
dias and her wanton daughter Salome. Sa- 
lome has been fascinated by the weird, fan- 

Modem German Culture 147 

tastic appearance of this man with the lion's 
mane and the far-away look in his eyes ; she 
wishes to flirt with him, to tame him, to 
possess him. When he enters the palace, 
she receives him with a shower of roses 
and the voluptuous songs of her maidens. 
But he remains unmoved. " Gird thy 
loins," he says to her, " and turn away from 
me in sackcloth and ashes. For I have been 
sent as a wrath over thee and as a curse to 
destroy thee." And he does not seem to 
notice that this very curse affects the in- 
fatuated girl like a magic love potion. 

Herodias, too, wishes to win him she 
wishes to make him a tool of her political 
designs, to stifle through him the popular 
opposition to the clerical sanction of her 
marriage; and she attempts to bribe him 
by offering him the charms of her daughter. 
But again his only answer is : " Adult- 
eress ! " And yet even this victory over 
sensual temptation leaves a sting in his 

148 Glimpses of 

soul; for again he hears that mysterious 
word, Love, and he must remain silent 
when Herodias calls out to him : " What 
right have you to judge the guilty, you 
who flee from human life into the loneliness 
of the desert? What do you know of those 
who live and die for love's sake? " 

And now he comes to see that he does 
not understand even those nearest to him. 
The wife of his favourite disciple comes to 
him and beseeches him to give back to her 
the heart of her husband; for since he has 
joined the band of the Baptist's followers 
he has forsaken his home and forgotten his 
kindred. And John never knew anything 
of this man's inner life, he knew nothing 
of the love that he is accused of having 
stifled ! Who, then, is he to teach others 
he who is constantly confronted with his 
own limitations, who must confess to him- 
self that he is without a guiding principle 
of his own conduct! Where is there an 

Modern German Culture H9 

outlook for him? Where is the path to- 
ward his salvation? Is it this Love that is 
thrust upon him from all sides? No, no; 
it cannot be. Love is littleness, is weak- 
ness, is selfishness, is sin! No, the only 
salvation lies in the Messiah, in him who is 
to come in heavenly splendour, surrounded 
by the rainbow, the King of Kings, the 
great fulfiller and judge ! Thus he tries to 
assure himself, thus he strains every nerve 
to maintain his tottering belief in his mis- 
sion, to keep awake the hope of his poor 
downtrodden people. And from this very 
people, from the mouth of an old wretched 
beggar-woman, he now hears for the first 
time the full, the cruel truth : " We do not 
want your Messiah! We do not want 
your King! Kings come only to kings; 
they have nothing in common with us, the 
poor. Go away; let us alone, you false 
prophet ! " 

Immediately after this scene the climax 

150 Glimpses of 

is reached. Ever since the Baptist for the 
first time heard that mysterious message of 
Love, he has been endeavouring to discov- 
er whence it came. In a vague manner he 
has associated it with the noble youth 
whom years ago he baptised in the Jordan, 
and from whom he has in some way hoped 
for the fulfilment of his Messianic dreams. 
Now he learns from some Galilean fisher- 
men that this Jesus of Nazareth has indeed 
brought a new gospel not the gospel of 
a superhuman Messiah, but of human 
brotherhood and kindliness, of the love of 
one's enemies, the very gospel of which 
John, through the bitter disenchantment, 
has gradually become the worthiest pro- 
phet. Just after this meeting with the 
Galileans he is drawn into the surging 
throng of the populace, who have streamed 
together to make a forcible attack upon 
Herod and his wife as they, in solemn pro- 
cession, repair to the temple. Torn with 

Modern German Culture 1 5 1 

conflicting feelings as he is, unable to col- 
lect his thoughts, he is pushed along to the 
steps of the temple. A stone is forced 
into his hand: he is to execute the judg- 
ment of the people against the vicious King 
himself. Mechanically he lifts the stone; 
he calls out to Herod : " In the name of 
him who " ; but the stone glides from his 
hand, and he stammers " of him who bade 
me love you ! " 

The rest of the drama brings little new of 
inner experience. Once more John rises to 
the full grandeur of the Old Testament 
prophet. Imprisoned, and led before the 
love-infatuated Salome, he once more defies 
her raging passion. He dies with words of 
peace and hope upon his lips. Immedi- 
ately after his execution there is heard from 
the street the hosannah of the jubilant 
masses greeting the entry of Jesus into Je- 

It may be that here and there in this 

i5 2 Glimpses of 

drama there is an overdose of staginess; 
staginess is undoubtedly the danger of Su- 
dermann's talent. It may be that the real- 
istic touches are here and there a little 
forced, and seem like effects borrowed 
from the religious paintings of Munkacsy. 
It may be that the talk of the Roman sol- 
diery smacks a little too much of the jargon 
of the Prussian officers of the guard. And 
there can be no doubt that the figure of 
Salome, this self-conscious, calculating 
Berlin coquette, falls far behind that ravish- 
ing creation of Heine's fancy after which 
she has been modelled: 

" In den Handen tragt sie immer 
Jene Schiissel mit dem Haupte 
Des Johannes, und sie kusst es, 
Ja sie kusst das Haupt mit Inbrunst. 

" War vielleicht ein Bischen bose 
Auf den Liebsten, liess ihn kopfen ; 
Aber als sie auf der Schiissel 
Das geliebte Haupt erblickte, 

" Weinte sie und ward verriickt, 
Und sie starb in Liebeswahnsinn. 
(Liebeswahnsinn ! Pleonasmus ! 
Liebe ist ja schon ein Wahnsinn!)" 

Modern German Culture 153 

But what does all this mean beside the 
fact that in the Baptist himself Sudermann 
has created a character worthy of Schiller's 
genius; a character which arouses in us 
emotions such as our forefathers must have 
felt when they saw the first performance of 
a " Jungfrau von Orleans " or a " Wilhelm 
Tell " ; a character which, we may confi- 
dently hope, will be a source of inspiration 
and delight to our children and our chil- 
dren's children. 

154 Glimpses of 

JULY, 1898. 

IT is surprising how indifferent the major- 
ity of American art students and cultivated 
Americans in general are towards whatever 
Germany has accomplished in the Fine Arts. 
While the Gothic architecture of France 
and England, Italian painting and sculpture 
of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, 
the Renaissance architecture of Italy and 
France, and modern French and English 
painting have engaged both the careful at- 
tention of specialists and the devoted in- 
terest of the wider circle of art-lovers, it 
would be in vain to search among us for a 
single prominent advocate or exponent of 
German achievements in these three sister 
arts. Where is there in this country an op- 
portunity to study adequately the wonder- 

Modern German Culture 155 

ful development of German church-build- 
ing during the Romanesque period? How 
much is known, even by professional art 
critics, of the superb thirteenth-century 
sculptures, in Naumburg, Wechselburg, 
Bamberg, or Freiburg; how much of the 
extraordinary wood-carvings of the fif- 
teenth century, such as the altar-works of 
Michael Pacher and Hans Bruggemann? 
What American contribution has there 
been made if we except the admirable 
work done by S. R. Koehler towards a 
fuller knowledge even of such men as Dii- 
rer and Holbein? And how many Ameri- 
cans are there to whom the names of Karl 
Rottmann, Ludwig Richter, Moritz von 
Schwind, and Anselm Feuerbach are more 
than mere names? 

It looks as though the same fate was 
about to overtake the life-work of Arnold 
Bocklin; and yet it is safe to say not only 
that the paintings of Bocklin are filling the 

1 56 Glimpses of 

imagination of cultivated Germans of the 
present day to a degree rarely equalled by 
artists of former ages, but that they are 
entitled to the earnest consideration of all 
those whether they be Europeans or 
Americans to whom art is still a chosen 
interpreter of the deepest mysteries of life. 
There is probably no artist of modern 
times in whom elemental instinct has burst 
forth with such tempestuous power as in 
Bocklin. There may be painters who, like 
Turner, surpass him in glow and brilliancy 
of colour; others, such as Puvis de Cha- 
vannes, may be his superiors in delicacy 
of tint and outline; still others, as for in- 
stance Verestchagin, "may have a surer 
grasp in reproducing actual happening. But 
not since the days of the Renaissance has 
there been his like in exultant sense of cre- 
ative vitality. Most artists are copyists. 
They merely tell, in one way or another, 
what they find in real life; they derive all 

Modern German Culture 157 

their conceptions from what they see or 
hear. Only the greatest create their own 
world. It is to these that Bocklin belongs. 
Whether we like his conceptions or not, it 
would never occur to us to deny them their 
right of existence, as little as we should 
think of disputing the legitimacy of the 
manifold forms and types of Nature her- 
self. This alone would be sufficient to give 
Bocklin a place among the chosen few. 
What gives him an added significance for 
our own time, what makes him a represen- 
tative of modern life, is that he, more in- 
tensely than any other artist, seems to have 
felt in himself the two contrasting passions 
of the modern world: its feverish striving, 
its indomitable thirst for boundless activity, 
and, at the same time, its deep, inarticulate 
craving for spiritual peace. 

Perhaps the most striking example of the 
Titanic impetuosity of Bocklin's art is his 
" Prometheus." Not even the masters of 

158 Glimpses of 

the frieze of Pergamon entered more fully 
into the spirit of fierce revolt that charac- 
terises the ancient story of the fight of the 
giants against the gods. But to this spirit 
of defiance there is added in Bocklin a 
sublime touch of mysticism. This colossal 
but shadowy figure that we see chained to 
the summit of the mountain, stretching out 
over its whole ridge, half mingling with 
the clouds that surround it, we feel to be 
a part of the universal yearning and strug- 
gling of creation for a higher existence. 
Indeed, it seems as though dumb nature 
had found a voice in this suffering man. 
He, rather than the rocks upon which he 
lies, seems to form the real summit of the 
mountain; and as we see the waves of pur- 
ple Okeanos dashing against its base, as 
we see the forests on its slope bending 
down before the raging gale, we can- 
not help imagining that all this together 
sea, rocks, forests, clouds, and man is one 

Modern German Culture 1 59 

gigantic being, throbbing with passionate 
life, brimming over, even in defeat, with 
indomitable energy and desire. How in- 
sipid and sentimental do most of the mod- 
ern representations of Prometheus appear 
by the side of this truly ^Eschylean con- 
ception ! 

It is, however, not only in such intrinsi- 
cally heroic situations that Bocklin's extra- 
ordinary sense for the elemental forces of 
nature and their restless weaving and work- 
ing asserts itself. Indeed, one might de- 
scribe most of his pictures as illustrations 
to the words of the Earth-Spirit in 

"In Lebensfluten, im Thatensturm 
Wall ich auf tmd ab, 
Wehe bin und her. 
Geburt und Grab, 
Ein ewiges Meer, 
Ein wechselnd Weben, 
Ein gliihend Leben 

So schaff ich am sausenden Webstuhl der Zeit 
Und wirke der Gottheit lebendiges Kleid." 

160 Glimpses of 

Or rather, most of his paintings seem to 
quiver with that intense, eager, ceaseless 
emotion by which such an activity as the 
Earth-Spirit's must be accompanied. 

What an irrepressible animal exuberance, 
for instance, breathes in his pictures of the 
sea ! To him every wave is a living being. 
As they dance and glitter in the sunshine, 
as they roll and heave in the storm, as they 
break over each other and spread into 
foamy whirls, as they glide gently upon the 
sand, every one of them seems to feel, to 
sing, to wail, to long, or to rejoice. And 
at the same time the sea as a whole seems 
to be a huge, many-headed, mysterious 
monster, of insatiable appetites, of unfath- 
omable power, and of endlessly changing 
forms. So that we are not in the least sur- 
prised to see all sorts of fantastic shapes 
and faces, mermaids, sea-dragons, centaurs, 
and fabulous serpents, lurking in the water 
and on the shore, riding on the crests of 
waves or diving into the deep. 

Modern German Culture 161 

One of these pictures shows a valley be- 
tween two gigantic rollers, evidently in 
mid-ocean; no distant view; nothing but 
this enormous mass of surging water. But 
on the top of one of the waves there conies 
riding along a shaggy ocean monster, a fat, 
brown, rollicking, sea-captain-like fellow, 
and his sudden appearance frightens some 
mermaids that are sporting below, so that 
they plunge headforemost into the protect- 
ing element. Another picture shows the 
breakers dashing over some barren rocks 
in the sea; on one of the rocks there sits a 
grizzly Triton blowing lustily into a tortu- 
ous shell which serves him for a trumpet; 
at his side, stretched out on her back, there 
lies a naked woman, letting the waves wash 
over her voluptuously, one of her hands 
lazily bent backward to her neck, the other 
playing with a gorgeous snake that has 
raised its luring head and part of its glit- 
tering body from under the water. In still 

1 62 Glimpses of 

another picture of this kind we see the tow- 
ering cliffs of a desolate coast; the surf is 
just receding, in rapid eddies, through the 
crevices of the rocks and boulders. In the 
middle of the cliffs there is a cavern-like 
chasm, and here there stands, leaning 
against the bare wall, a strange, super- 
humanly beautiful woman, her dark hair 
flowing upon her shining shoulders, her eye 
rapturously following the receding floods, 
while at the same time she drinks in the 
sound of an yEolian harp that is suspended 
at the opening of the ravine. 

In all this, what a wonderful fascination, 
what an irresistible passion, what a glow- 
ing, daring, bewildering life ! Is it a wonder 
that Bocklin touches the heart of modern 
men? Is not this the way in which modern 
men live feverishly working, feverishly 
enjoying, crowding eternities into a brief, 
hasty moment? Is not this an age of 
giants and of demigods? And do we not 

Modern German Culture 163 

even in nature see our own selves, do we 
not even from nature derive excitement and 
intensified energy rather than edification 
and calm? I believe that, in spite of the 
classical form of many of his conceptions, 
there is, in this respect at least, no more 
intensely modern artist than Bocklin. 

Herman Grimm, to whom we owe an ad- 
mirable analysis of Bocklin's character, finds 
in him a lack of spirituality. He notices 
an underlying sadness in his work, and 
thinks its effect disquieting rather than up- 
lifting. That here a real limitation of 
Bocklin's genius is touched upon is made 
perfectly apparent if we compare his sen- 
suous and decidedly earthy creations with 
the soaring conceptions of a man with 
whom in artistic power he has a good deal 
in common : the unswerving idealist Watts. 
And yet I cannot help thinking that, if 
Bocklin lacks spirituality, he certainly does 
not lack the desire for spirituality, No man 

164 Glimpses of 

could have created such works as " The 
Silence of the Forest," or " The Palace by 
the Sea," or " The Playing Hermit " who 
had not a deep-rooted craving for redemp- 
tion from this busy show world, who did 
not feel the awe of the Infinite. And does 
there exist a more perfect symbol of the 
longing of modern humanity for transfigu- 
ration and peace than Bocklin's " Isle of 
the Dead " ? Again we are in the middle 
of the sea. Out of the endless glassy calm 
there rises a rocky island. It seems a 
burnt-out volcano; on its sides we see, 
hewn into the rock, openings that remind 
one of the Christian catacombs. Waterfalls 
float like veils over the surface of the rocks 
and lose themselves gently in the sea. In 
the middle of the island there is a labyrinth 
of cypresses. Their tops rise above the 
surrounding cliffs and are being lashed by a 
storm that sweeps along in the higher 
regions. But in the forest itself there 

Modern German Culture 165 

reigns absolute stillness and a mysterious 
dusk. In the foreground, on the water, 
there drifts a boat towards the island no 
sail, no rudder, no oarsmen; a figure, 
shrouded in a white garment, stands in it, 
erect, but with bowed head. Soon it will 
have reached its goal. 

1 66 Glimpses of 

AUGUST 1898. 

WHAT a pleasure it is (and what a rare 
one) to meet a man who, in the midst of 
an active and busy career, surrounded by 
humdrum cares and duties, struggling 
with the stern realities of existence, has 
still preserved all the joy fulness, recep- 
tivity, and fancifulness of his childhood, 
and who, above the noise and din of his 
work-a-day world, leads a life of gay and 
sunny visions! Such a man is Heinrich 
Seidel. In reading him we are made to 
forget that there is a threatening social 
question, that there is an imperious pop- 
ular demand for sweeping political re- 
forms; or rather, we are made to feel that 
these social and political reforms will be 

Modern German Culture 167 

of no avail, if they do not involve the main- 
tenance and strengthening of those virtues 
of individual character which are the foun- 
dation of all society: faith, purity, disci- 
pline, cheerfulness, loyalty, love. 

Seidel is the poet of the commonplace, 
more especially of the commonplace in 
modern city life. He has the pure and 
unclouded eye which detects joy and in- 
spiration even in the monotonous drudg- 
ery of the factory and the counting-room, 
and which finds a reflex of the divine 
even in back alleys and tenement houses. 
He has that reverence for the humble 
and the unpretentious which makes him 
discover worlds of feelings, longings, and 
aspirations where others would see noth- 
ing but anonymous philistinism. He is 
the Ludwig Richter of modern German 

To what extent Seidel even now, as a 
man of over fifty, is dominated by the im- 

1 68 Glimpses of 

pressions of his youth, we see in his re- 
cently published autobiography. It is a 
touching sight to see this strong, martial- 
looking man, this hardy Mecklenburger 
who made his way from his father's coun- 
try parsonage to a leading position in the 
engineering department of one of the fore- 
most German railway systems, who may 
justly claim the honour of having achieved 
one of the most remarkable feats of mod- 
ern iron architecture: the huge iron frame 
roof that overarches the Anhalter Bahnhof 
at Berlin to see such a man revelling in 
the simplest odds and ends of family recol- 
lections, and taking an infinite delight in 
the most harmless kind of friendly jokes. 

I select a few scenes which will give an 
idea of the poetic charm that surrounds 
the matter-of-fact experiences of this hon- 
est German burgher. Speaking of the fine 
sense of justice which surprises us so often 
in children with regard to the kind of pun- 

Modern German Culture 169 

ishment meted out to their offences, Seidel 
recalls an occasion where the fact that he 
received less of a retribution than he knew 
he deserved tormented him more deeply 
than any chastisement that had ever been 
inflicted on him. 

" I had teased my little brother Werner 
by bending a piece of whalebone back and 
letting it snap against his hand as every 
boy knows, a very painful device. He cried 
for mother. She came, and as a punish- 
ment simply struck me with the slender 
whalebone a few times on the palm of my 
hand, which of course I hardly felt. But 
in my heart I feel it deeply, and a boundless 
admiration seized me for the goodness and 
magnanimity of my mother, who thus mis- 
judged me in meliorem partem. I stole into 
a corner and my tears flowed freely. Even 
in after-years I could not get over the feel- 
ing of contrition that took hold of me, 
whenever I thought of this little incident. 

1 7 Glimpses of 

Had my mother punished me in the same 
painful way in which I had sinned, we 
should have been quits, and never would 
she have appeared to me in such an angelic 
light as was now the case." 

The father appears to have entered much 
less deeply into young Seidel's life than 
the mother. He seems to have been a 
man entirely absorbed in his clerical duties 
and occasional poetic musings, and one 
cannot help thinking that the son often 
longed in vain for closer intimacy with him. 
There is, then, a peculiar pathos in the fact 
that after his death the thought of him 
seems to have been for years so constantly 
in Seidel's mind that it took the form of an 
ever and ever recurring dream. Seidel 
describes this dream in the following man- 

" My father had not really been buried, 
but in his place a coffin laden with stones; 
while he himself had gone far away and was 

Modern German Culture 171 

now living- as a wanderer in distant moun- 
tains. He had regained his health, and 
though he looked very emaciated, he had 
a brown, healthy complexion and an elastic 
step. The longing to see his family again 
would from time to time draw him back to 
us; but it was a deep secret that he was still 
alive, and nobody was to know it. After a 
short sojourn with us, he would wander 
away again. Once I had this dream again, 
this time with the variation that people 
were on his track and we had to conceal 
him. We took him into a large subter- 
ranean wareroom, where one vault led to 
another, and sought for a hiding-place 
among the innumerable boxes and bales that 
were stored there. All the while we heard 
the talking and walking about of the peo- 
ple who were in search of him. Finally the 
danger was past and we took him to the 
sea and bade him farewell. Over the sea 
a wooden bridge had been built, which to- 

i7 2 Glimpses of 

ward the horizon lost itself in the distance. 
He took his long walking staff, which was 
higher than himself, seized it about two- 
thirds of its length, and went out on the 
bridge, putting down the staff for support 
at every step. We stood on the shore 
looking after him, and he became smaller 
and smaller and finally disappeared at a 
little point in the distance. Since then this 
dream has not come again." 

Even if we did not hear from Seidel him- 
self that he is a great admirer of Amadeus 
Hoffmann, the Romanticist of Romanti- 
cists, in conceptions like these and there 
are many similar ones we should detect the 
romantic element as an important part in 
Seidel's literary make-up. Fortunately, his 
romanticism has not a trace of Hoffmann's 
morbidness; it is inwardly sound; it is tem- 
pered by common sense and humour; and 
the result is that, far from leading us into a 
world of incongruous hallucinations, it 

Modern German Culture 173 

gives us an enlarged view of reality, be- 
cause it shows us reality in the glamour of 
an inner light which has its origin in re- 
gions inaccessible to the intellect. 

None of Seidel's creations shows this 
two-fold character of his fancy more strik- 
ingly than that figure by which his name 
will probably longest be remembered: the 
inimitable Leberecht Hiihnchen and his 

Here again we observe the intimate con- 
nection between Seidel's literary activity 
and the impressions of his own life; for the 
prototype of Leberecht Hiihnchen was a 
fellow-student of Seidel's at the Polytech- 
nikum of Hanover whom in his autobi- 
ography he characterises thus: 

" Being of extremely slender means, he 
had to peg along through all sorts of hard- 
ships. But all the time something like 
sunshine emanated from him, and he knew 
how to find a serene side in everything. He 

1 74 Glimpses of 

could take infinite glee in grotesque con- 
ceptions and inventions. Once I found 
him sitting at his window and looking out 
upon the square in front with an expression 
of intense amusement. I asked him what 
entertained him so much. ' Oh/ said he, 
' I am only imagining that I could suddenly 
dart out my nose way off into the square 
and quickly draw it in again, so that I could 
tip with it the people yonder on the shoul- 
der; and then, when they looked round, 
frightened and surprised, nobody would be 

Here is the germ of that harmless, con- 
tented, moderately fantastic, and withal so 
thoroughly sound and useful life of which 
the good Leberecht forms the centre. But 
how this life has expanded under Seidel's 
hands, how its meaning has deepened ! 

The very opening scene suggests the 
charm of all that is to follow. For years 
the poet has lost all trace of his old college 

Modem German Culture 175 

friend, when by accident he learns that he 
has obtained a subordinate position in one 
of the large Berlin iron foundries and is 
living somewhere in the outlying districts 
of the city. All the dear old recollections 
of their student days are revived by this 
news in Seidel's mind, and he starts out at 
once in quest of the long-lost companion. 
Sauntering about in the quarter of the 
town to which he has been directed, he sees 
a little boy and girl playing on the front 
steps of an apartment house and deriving 
an immense amount of delight from turn- 
ing their heads backward and letting it rain 
into their wide-open mouths. At once the 
thought crosses Seidel's mind: these can- 
not but be Leberecht Huhnchen's children ! 
He speaks to them, and forsooth! Hiihn- 
chen is their father ! Merrily they run up- 
stairs, three stories high, to announce the 
stranger, and soon the two friends have 
clasped hands once more. 

76 Glimpses of 

From this scene to the last ones, de- 
picting the joys and sorrows of Hiihn- 
chen's old age, his domestic comfort, the 
merry-making and holiday pleasures of the 
circle of friends that has gathered about 
him, the engagement and wedding of his 
daughter, the birth of the first grandson, 
and later on the death of a dear little grand- 
daughter what a world of tender feeling, 
of genuine poetry, of deep religious faith, 
and of sturdy honesty there is revealed to 
us! It is not too much to say that not 
since Jean Paul's " Quintus Fixlein " has 
there been drawn a lovelier picture of what 
is most charming, most wholesome, and 
most German in German family life. And I 
doubt whether parental feelings have ever 
been described more truthfully and more 
poetically than in the following account 
of a night spent by a father at the sick-bed 
of his little boy : 

" The crisis of the illness had come, and 
when I had just lain down a little on the 

Modern German Culture 177 

bed in my clothes, the boy began to be 
delirious. Suddenly he was on his knees 
and played eagerly with imaginary things. 
Something that could not be seen he would 
put constantly now here, now there, and then 
he would quickly grope with the hand after 
it, as though it were running away from 
him. ' Wolfgang, what are you doing? ' 
I asked. ' Oh, I am playing with my 
store/ he said, ' but don't you see, it is all 
running away from me, all the time, there 
there there/ ' My boy, you are dream- 
ing/ I said, and pressed him gently back on 
his pillow. ' Ah, yes/ said he then and lay 
patiently down on his side. But after a 
while he began again playing in the same 
manner. Then there seized me a nameless 
fright, and I began softly walking up and 
down, up and down through the room. 
And once as I stepped to the window and 
was staring out into the misty night, I saw 
something or believed to see something. 
Was it a vision with which my excited 

1 78 Glimpses of 

imagination deluded me? There, between 
the bushes of the garden it stood, like a 
long, lean, closely buttoned figure, shad- 
owy but discernible. It was as though 
it were waiting for some one. And now it 
seemed as though this shadowy being took 
out a watch and looked at it searchingly, 
and then turned its dark, hollow eyes to 
the window where I was standing. And 
then it nodded its head, as if to say : ' It is 
time/ Then there spoke something in me, 
imploringly, although I could not bring a 
sound to my lips : ' Go, go ! thou frightful, 
cruel, pitiless one, go, go ! and leave him to 
me, I beseech you from the depths of my 
soul. There are so many who long for 
thee, to whom thou comest as a redeemer, 
as a messenger of peace. Turn thy steps 
yonder, and leave him to me, leave my 
child to me ! ' 

"And it seemed to me as though he was 
hesitating, the frightful shadow. Did he 
not stoop down and pick a poor little 

Modern German Culture 1 79 

flower that stood there between some thin 
stalks, and did not he then vanish away in 
the mist? From the bed of my son I 
heard the sound of quiet breathing, for the 
first time this night. He was asleep. The 
next morning the doctor came, and his 
eyes shone when he saw the child. ' Thank 
God ! ' he exclaimed, ' now we are 

Although Heinrich Seidel is not a young 
man any more (he was born in 1842), there 
is no sign of waning power in his recent 
writings. Indeed, his latest volume, " The 
Eyes of Memory and other Sketches," has 
all the charm of sentiment and droll humour 
that pervades his early work. But even 
if his task were in the main done now, it 
would have been a task than which no man 
could wish for a worthier one. For what 
cannot be said of very many literary pro- 
ductions of our time, can be said of his: 
they have helped to make men happier and 

180 Glimpses of 


PROBABLY no territory inhabited by Ger- 
man-speaking people is as crowded with 
picturesque sights and scenes as are the 
Bavarian and Austrian Highlands. The 
mountains themselves offer a wonderful va- 
riety of scenery, from the gentle charm of 
smiling lakes bordered by gay villages, of 
crystal streams flowing through luxuriant 
meadows, to the solemn grandeur of Alpine 
wilderness with its primeval forests, impas- 
sable chasms, and silent summits. And in 
this land there dwells a people worthy of its 
soil, sturdy and joyous, full of merriment 
and song, clinging to old traditions, of na- 
tive beauty of speech and bearing. Here, 
centuries ago, the legend of the Nibelungs 
was welded into the lays in which it has 

Modern German Culture 181 

come down to us. Here Walther von der 
Vogelweide learned the art of chivalric 
song. Here was the home of Haydn and 
Mozart. Here the Catholic Church is still 
in living contact with the people, and Pas- 
sion Plays and rustic sculpture and painting 
testify to its ennobling influence upon 
popular art. 

No living writer is a truer representative 
of this hardy people than Peter Rosegger; 
none could in as full a sense of the word be 
called a son of the Alps. He was born 
fifty-five years ago in an out-of-the-way 
nook of the Styrian mountains, the pater- 
nal homestead being separated by miles 
and miles of forest and glen from the near- 
est village, Krieglach by name. His father 
belonged to a family of peasants; the grand- 
father on his mother's side was a charcoal- 
burner. From early childhood the boy 
shared in the incessant toil and drudgery 
by which the family eked out their scanty 

1 82 Glimpses of 

living, but he also imbibed that sense of 
freedom and that intense love of home so 
characteristic of his race. His earliest in- 
struction he received, in a desultory way, 
from an itinerant schoolmaster who on ac- 
count of liberal opinions had been forced 
out of office by the village priest and who 
thereupon, taking up the life of a vagrant, 
dispensed for food and shelter the rudi- 
ments of wisdom in the lonely mountain 
settlements. Since the parents wished to 
have the delicate boy study for the clergy, 
they placed him when about fifteen years of 
age in charge of a priest in a neighbouring 
village; but the love for his mountain home 
was too strong in him : after three days he 
ran away from his tutor, and wandered 
back into the ancestral wilderness. 

Instead of the clerical profession the par- 
ents now decided on another branch of 
learning for their son, to wit, the tailor's 
craft; and it was as a tailor's apprentice that 

Modern German Culture 183 

young Rosegger made his first study of the 
world. He himself has called the five years 
of this apprenticeship the college period of 
his literary career. Like his first instruc- 
tor in the rudiments of school learning, so 
his master in f the tailoring trade also be- 
longed to the itinerant sort. He would 
travel with his journeymen and apprentices 
from farm to farm all over their native 
mountains, stay in each house as long as 
there was work for them to do, and then 
pass on to another, where they would be 
received into the same household intimacy. 
In this manner young Rosegger during 
those five years came into the closest rela- 
tionship with nearly seventy different 
households an opportunity for character 
study probably unparalleled in literary his- 
tory. It was during this time that he gath- 
ered that rich store of popular tradition and 
wisdom which makes his works a veritable 
mine of information for the student of 

184 Glimpses of 

primitive folk life; and even the imagina- 
tive part of his writings can be traced in a 
good many instances to the talk and the 
incidents that formed the romance of this 
ambulant tailorshop. 

Some poems of his in Styrian dialect 
which would now and then find their way 
into local newspapers attracted the atten- 
tion of litterateurs in Graz, the Styrian 
capital, and through the efforts of these 
men among whom Rosegger mentions 
with particular affection and gratitude Dr. 
Svoboda, Robert Hamerling, and Rudolf 
Falb the young poet was released from 
the narrow bonds of handicraft and given 
an opportunity for liberal studies and 
further literary work. From here on his 
career was assured. From the very first 
his descriptions of Alpine life found a full 
measure of applause from those for whom 
no doubt they were in the first place writ- 
ten the Alpine folk themselves. But 

Modern German Culture 185 

soon their reputation spread beyond the 
range of the Austrian mountains; and at 
present there is, apart from the modern 
realistic dramatists, hardly a writer in all 
Germany who commands such universal at- 
tention and respect as this artless story- 
teller of the wilderness. He himself is fully 
aware of the limitations of his fancy and 
his philosophy of life. With few excep- 
tions, he has eschewed subjects which lie 
outside of " the small great world " which 
he knows so well. And although he has 
not infrequently given readings from his 
works in the great centres of modern Ger- 
man culture, from Vienna to Hamburg, it 
always drew him back into his mountains, 
and even now he spends at least part of the 
year in an Alpine cottage near the old peas- 
ant homestead. 

The two most conspicuous traits of Ro- 
segger's literary character are a rare power 
of grasping the picturesque aspect of 

1 86 Glimpses of 

things, and a sublime simplicity and depth 
of sentiment. 

It is indeed a mistake to think of Franz 
Defregger as the foremost painter of Ger- 
man Highland life. Who would not be 
grateful to the jovial master for having in- 
troduced us into the holiday frolic of his 
mountaineers? Who would not take de- 
light in those superb lads and lasses of his 
as they dance in the village inn or engage 
in harmless raillery and merrymaking at 
the lonely Alpine home? Who would not 
feel the thrill of genuine love of country 
when looking at such heroic scenes as 
" The Last Muster " or " Hofer Going to 
His Execution " ? But, after all, how 
limited Defregger's sphere is in comparison 
with the well-nigh universal range of 
Rosegger's observation; how much fuller 
and richer a picture of life the painter in 
words unfolds before us than the painter 
on canvas ! 

Modern German Culture 187 

Rosegger seems to see with more than 
his own eyes and to hear with more than 
his own ears. Nothing seems to escape 
him, and everything seems to turn before 
him into a picture. His own youth, as he 
narrates it in his " Forest Home," appears 
to us as an almost endless chain of pictur- 
esque incidents, the very chapter headings 
often suggesting fanciful or humourous 
situations : " Of the great-grandfather as 
he sat on the hemlock tree," " When I 
presented the dear Lord God with my Sun- 
day jacket," " Stories under the changing 
moon," " The Advent of the Holy Ghost," 
" When I was a grist miller," " When the 
nights were bright," " When I was build- 
ing a world in the sky," " When I went to 
see the Emperor," " When I sat for the first 
time in a steam car." And every one of 
these situations seems a world in itself, as 
far removed from the dusty prose of ordi- 
nary life as the mountain peaks themselves 

1 88 Glimpses of 

are from the smoke of the factories. But 
Rosegger's real subject is the mountain folk 
in its totality, every shade of its character, 
every side of its varied activities and en- 
joyments, its superstitions as well as its 
faith, its humdrum toil no less than its gay 
eccentricities and fierce passions. 

There is the priest of the outlying forest 
settlements, humble and devoted, a worker 
among workers, a helper in distress, a 
father of the fatherless; there is the jovial 
village priest, both a ruler and a friend of 
his people, shrewd and good-natured, 
bigoted, but full of sturdy wisdom. There 
is the domestic life of the peasants: the 
father given over to the hard struggle for 
existence, superintending his hired men al- 
most more carefully than his family, con- 
servative, stubborn, chary of words, but 
easily inflammable; the mother, undisputed 
ruler of the house, provident, sagacious, in- 
cessantly at work, a tower of strength to 

Modern German Culture 189 

her husband, an inexhaustible source of 
comfort and joy to the children. There is 
the floating population of the mountains 
with its adventurous and doubtful char- 
acters : the travelling traders and craftsmen, 
the woodcutters, the military conscripts, 
the fiddlers, the pilgrims, the vagrant beg- 
gars, the fortune-tellers, the orphans, the 
village idiots. There are the popular rites 
and festivals, half Catholic and half pagan : 
the driving out of winter, the summer sols- 
tice fire, the charming of thunderstorms 
and eclipses of the moon, the Corpus 
Christi processions, the Christmas and Pas- 
sion plays. And back of it all there lies the 
solemn world of the Alps in its unapproach- 
able grandeur, with its towering cliffs and 
peaks untrod by man, with its ravines and 
canons, unillumined by the rays of the sun, 
with its torrents and its tornadoes, its silent 
lakes and its mighty avalanches. Truly, 
one might say of Rosegger's descriptions 

19 Glimpses of 

of Alpine life what he himself has said of his 
people: a huge treasure of moral power is 
stored in them, an inexhaustible reserve of 
primitive fancy, which cannot fail to be a 
source of rejuvenation to the over-culti- 
vated minds of the present age, which will 
help to restore to their rightful place de- 
mands which in the feverish struggle for in- 
tellectual progress so often are lost sight 
of the demands of the human heart. 

Rosegger is by no means indifferent to 
the all-absorbing conflicts of the day. In 
the great questions of political and religious 
organisation he is altogether on the side of 
freedom. Nothing is more foreign to him 
than the desire to stem the tide of social 
emancipation which is now forcing its way 
even into the Highland valleys. He is as 
far from being a fantastic dreamer as from 
being a reactionary fanatic. He is essen- 
tially a modern man. But his liberalism 
does not keep him from lingering tenderly 

Modern German Culture 1-91 

and lovingly over the precious traditions of 
the past; indeed he finds the mission of his 
life in carrying over into the new time 
whatever he can rescue from the ruin of 
the old. This it is that gives to his stories 
that indescribable charm of gentle melan- 
choly, of reverent veracity, of fairy-tale sin- 
cerity and uprightness which is so strik- 
ingly absent in most of our modern realists. 
Is it not as though one heard the voice of 
an Uhland or a Wilhelm Grimm in such a 
scene as the following: 

" Once my mother and I went through 
the forest in the middle of the night. The 
little daughter of a charcoal-burner had 
died, and we went to pray at her bier and 
to help the parents keep watch over the 
dead. We walked slowly over the moss, 
the forest was dark. But high above the 
tree-tops stood the full moon, and where it 
could penetrate through the thicket of 
boughs, it scattered stars and milk-white 
dots before us on the ground. 

i9 2 Glimpses of 

"As we came to a little clearing, my 
mother stood still, turned her face to the 
sky, put her hand over her eyes and said: 
' Ah, there you can see it nicely, the spin- 
ning wheel of our dear Lady.' She meant 
the moon, which was spinning its soft, deli- 
cate threads between the tree-tops and 
branches. Then my mother turned to me : 
' Look into the moon, boy. There sits our 
dear Lady and spins. She is spinning a 
heavenly garment for the dear little girl 
that to-day lies on the bier. And look a 
little more. Your great-grandmother sits 
there too/ Forsooth, there I saw it, yon- 
der in the moon there sat two women won- 
drous fair at the wheel. 

" We went on, and the moon went with 
us apace, and spun its heavenly silk down 
into our wide forest. When we came 
to the hut where the charcoal-burner's 
daughter lay, the door was wide open, and 
the moon was shining upon her body, and 

Modern German Culture 193 

her face was sweet and dear and mild, like 
snow-white wax. ' We are out of oil/ said 
the charcoal-burner, ' and we cannot have 
a lamp here; so we opened the door, that 
the moon might be the light for the dead.' 
At once I thought of our dear Lady; now 
she was surely spinning the heavenly gar- 
ment for the little girl. 

"We watched at the body until the 
morning-red began to shimmer upon the 
tops of the forest, and until the moon, pale 
and almost lustreless, sank down behind 
the distant rocks of the Highlands. Then 
they took up the lovely child and carried 
her away. And when the moon rose once 
more, it found a fresh mound in the church- 
yard and a little wooden cross upon it, and 
it shed its lustre over the grave, sweet and 

Besides his sketches of a more or less 
autobiographical nature and besides his 
character studies depicting popular life in 


194 Glimpses of 

its various phases and types, Rosegger has 
written several novels such as Heide- 
peter's Gabriel and The God-Seeker which 
in an equally striking manner prove 
his extraordinary power of creating what 
the Germans call a Stimmungsbild. But it 
seems as though his very gift of transform- 
ing every sight into a picture fraught with 
sentiment prevented him from attaining the 
highest goal in blending this infinitude of 
impressions and emotions into the architec- 
tural structure of a novel. One might say 
that he lives rather than produces his 
poetry. It is their lyric quality that will 
make his works endure. 

Modern German Culture 195 


OCTOBER, 1898. 

IT was a spring day in 1883. The crafts 
and trades of Berlin were celebrating the 
anniversary of the founding of one of their 
guilds some four or five centuries ago. In 
good German fashion, there was an abun- 
dance of solemn and sonorous jollification 
throughout the day, but the climax of the 
exercises was reached in an historical pa- 
geant representing trie growth of Berlin 
commerce and manufactures from the 
Middle Ages down to the present time. 

It had been given out that this pageant 
was to be reviewed by the old Emperor 
from his familiar corner window, and it was 
rumoured that it would also pass by the 
Imperial Chancellery, and that Prince Bis- 

196 Glimpses of 

marck would probably be there to see it 
pass. In anticipation of this event, a dense 
multitude had taken possession of the 
square in front of Bismarck's official resi- 
dence the Wilhelmsplatz hours before 
the procession had even begun to move. 
An eager, nervous expectation seemed to 
hover over the surging masses. Will the 
procession really come this way? And if 
it does, will he appear he who is so in- 
different to pompous demonstrations, so 
averse to appeals to the crowd? As yet 
there was no sign of life in the Bismarck 
mansion: the windows were closed; most of 
the curtains were drawn. Perhaps the 
Prince is not even at home, or is too en- 
grossed in public business to have given 
any attention to this local holiday. In 
spite of such misgivings, the populace held 
out unfalteringly; every minute swelled its 
numbers. Now, not only the square, but 
the adjoining streets also were literally 

Modern German Culture 19? 

packed. Presently there was heard from 
the direction of Unter den Linden the low 
thunder of tumultuous cheering, inter- 
spersed now and then with some distant 
strains of martial music; evidently the pro- 
cession was passing the Emperor's palace. 
Nearer and nearer the sounds came, and 
higher and higher ran our feverish excite- 

Presently in a wing of the Chancellery 
nearest to the Wilhelmstrasse a window was 
thrown open: the Princess Bismarck and 
Count Herbert leaned out, and far back in 
the darkness of the room there loomed up 
a shadowy form, from which a mighty head 
seemed to be shining forth with something 
like electric energy. To describe the 
frenzy which seized the thousands in 
the street at this sight would be a futile 
task. It was as though we had had a vis- 
ion, as though something superhuman had 
suddenly flashed down upon us and ex- 

198 Glimpses of 

tinguished every other feeling except the 
impulse to worship. How long we had 
been cheering before he came forward to 
the window I cannot tell, but I venture to 
say that even an American football enthu- 
siast would have been pleased with, our 

At last, however, he did come forward, 
and, putting on a pair of immense spec- 
tacles which his wife handed to him, looked 
down upon us with an expression of grave 
satisfaction. Meanwhile, the procession of 
the guilds had swung into the Wilhelm- 
strasse, and now passed by the Chancellery 
in seemingly endless array, every band 
striking up The Watch on the Rhine just 
before it reached his window, every banner 
being dipped as long as his eye was upon 
it, and every man straightening himself up 
and feeling raised above his own narrow 
self while looking up to that stern and awe- 
inspiring face. 

Modern German Culture 199 

What was it that moved the multitude 
so profoundly during those hours, that 
gave to that impromptu demonstration the 
significance and dignity of a national 
event? Was it the consciousness of stand- 
ing in the presence of the greatest diplo- 
mat of modern times, the maker and un- 
maker of kings and emperors, the founder 
of German unity, the arbiter of Europe? 
Undoubtedly this was a large part of it. 
But political achievements alone are not 
sufficient to stir the people's heart. What 
called forth this extraordinary outburst of 
enthusiasm, what gave to every one in that 
crowd the sense of a heightened existence, 
was, after all, the man, not his work; it was 
the instinctive feeling that in this one man 
yonder there were contained the lives of 
many millions of Germans, their dreams 
and struggles, their eccentricities and 
yearnings, their mistakes and triumphs, 
their prejudices, passions, ideals, their love, 
hate, humour, poetry and religion. 

200 Glimpses of 

Let us single out a few of these affinities 
between Bismarck and the German people, 
in order to understand, however imper- 
fectly, why the news of his death that has 
burst so suddenly upon us means for the 
sons of the Fatherland all over the globe 
the severing of their own lives from what 
they feel to have been the most complete 
embodiment, since Luther, of German na- 

Perhaps the most obviously Teutonic 
trait in Bismarck's character is its martial 
quality. It would be preposterous, of 
course, to claim warlike distinction as a 
prerogative of the German race. Russians, 
Frenchmen, Englishmen, Americans, un- 
doubtedly, make as good fighters as Ger- 
mans. But it is not an exaggeration to 
say that there is no country in the world 
where the army is as enlightened or as 

Modern German Culture 201 

popular an institution as it is in Germany. 
I do not underrate the evils of militarism. 
I believe the struggle against these evils 
will be the foremost task of the next 
twenty-five years in German political life. 
But I fail to see how it can be denied that 
the introduction of universal military ser- 
vice, which we owe to the inner regenera- 
tion of Prussia after the downfall of 1806, 
has been the very corner-stone of German 
greatness in this century. 

The German army is not composed of 
hirelings, of professional fighters whose 
business it is to pick up quarrels, no mat- 
ter with whom. It is, in the strictest sense 
of the word, the people in arms. Among 
its officers there is a large percentage of 
the intellectual elite of the country; its 
rank and file embrace every occupation 
and every class of society, from the scion 
of royal blood down to the son of the 
seamstress. Although it is based upon the 

202 Glimpses of 

unconditional acceptance of the monarchi- 
cal creed, nothing is farther removed from 
it than the spirit of servility. On the con- 
trary, one of the very first teachings which 
are inculcated upon the German recruit is 
that in wearing the " king's coat " he is 
performing a public duty, and that by per- 
forming this duty he is honouring himself. 
Nor can it be said that it is the aim of Ger- 
man military drill to reduce the soldier to 
a mere machine, at will to be set in motion 
or be brought to a standstill by his supe- 
rior. The aim of this drill is rather to 
give each soldier increased self-control, 
mentally no less than bodily; to develop his 
self-respect; to enlarge his sense of respon- 
sibility, as well as to teach him the absolute 
necessity of the subordination of the indi- 
vidual to the needs of the whole. The 
German army, then, is by no means a life- 
less tool that might be used by an unscru- 
pulous and adventurous despot to gratify 

Modern German Culture 203 

his own whims or to wreak his private ven- 
geance. The German army is, in principle 
at least, a national school of manly virtues, 
of discipline, of comradeship, of self-sacri- 
fice, of promptness of action, of tenacity of 
purpose. Although, probably, the most 
powerful armament which the world has 
ever seen, it makes for peace rather than 
for war. Although called upon to defend 
the standard of the most imperious dynasty 
of western Europe, it contains more of the 
spirit of true democracy than many a city 
government on this side of the Atlantic. 

All this has to be borne in mind if we 
wish to judge correctly of Bismarck's mili- 
tary propensities. He has never concealed 
the fact that he felt himself above all a sol- 
dier. One of his earliest public utterances 
was a defense of the Prussian army against 
the sympathizers with the revolution of 
1848. His first great political achievement 
was the carrying through of King William's 

204 Glimpses of 

army reform in the face of the most stub- 
born and virulent opposition of a parlia- 
mentary majority. Never did his speech in 
the German Diet rise to a higher pathos 
than when he was asserting the military 
supremacy of the Emperor, or calling upon 
the parties to forget their dissensions in 
maintaining the defensive strength of the 
nation, or showering contempt upon liberal 
deputies who seemed to think that ques- 
tions of national existence could be solved 
by effusions of academic oratory. Over 
and over, during the last decade of his offi- 
cial career, did he declare that the only 
thing which kept him from throwing aside 
the worry and vexation of governmental 
duties, and retiring to the much coveted 
leisure of home and hearth, was the oath 
of vassal loyalty constraining him to stand 
at his post until his imperial master released 
him of his own accord. And at the very 
height of his political triumphs he wrote to 

Modern German Culture 205 

his sovereign : " I have always regretted 
that my parents did not allow me to testify 
my attachment to the royal house, and my 
enthusiasm for the greatness and glory of 
the Fatherland, in the front rank of a regi- 
ment rather than behind a writing-desk. 
And even now, after having been raised 
by your Majesty to the highest honors of a 
statesman, I cannot altogether repress a 
feeling of regret at not having been simi- 
larly able to carve out a career for myself 
as a soldier. Perhaps I should have made 
a poor general, but if I had been free to fol- 
low the bent of my own inclination I would 
rather have won battles for your Majesty 
than diplomatic campaigns." 

It seems clear to me that both the defects 
and the greatness of Bismarck's character 
are intimately associated with these mili- 
tary leanings of his. He certainly, was 
overbearing; he could tolerate no opposi- 
tion; he was revengeful and unforgiving; 

2o6 Glimpses of 

he took pleasure in the appeal to violence; 
he easily resorted to measures of repres- 
sion; he requited insults with counter-in- 
sults; he had something of that blind furor 
Teutonicus which was the terror of the Ital- 
ian republics in the Middle Ages. These 
are defects of temper which will probably 
prevent his name from ever shining with 
that serene lustre of international venera- 
tion that has surrounded the memory of a 
Joseph II. or a Washington with a kind 
of impersonal immaculateness. But his 
countrymen, at least, have every reason to 
condone these defects; for they are conco- 
mitant results of the military bent of Ger- 
man character, and they are offset by such 
transcendent military virtues that we would 
almost welcome them as bringing this co- 
lossal figure within the reach of our own 
frailties and shortcomings. 

Three of the military qualities that made 
Bismarck great seem to me to stand out 

Modern German Culture 207 

with particular distinctness: his readiness 
to take the most tremendous responsibili- 
ties, if he could justify his action by the 
worth of the cause for which he made him- 
self responsible; his moderation after suc- 
cess was assured; his unflinching submis- 
sion to the dictates of monarchical disci- 

Moritz Busch has recorded an occur- 
rence, belonging to the autumn of 1877, 
which most impressively brings before us 
the tragic grandeur and the portentous 
issues of Bismarck's career. It was twi- 
light at Varzin, and the Chancellor, as was 
his wont after dinner, was sitting by the 
stove in the large back drawing-room. 
After having sat silent for a while, gazing 
straight before him, and feeding the fire 
now and anon with fir-cones, he suddenly 
began to complain that his political activity 
had brought him but little satisfaction and 
few friends. Nobody loved him for what 

208 Glimpses of 

he had done. He had never made anybody 
happy thereby, he said not himself, nor 
his family, nor any one else. Some of 
those present would not admit this, and 
suggested " that he had made a great na- 
tion happy." " But," he continued, " how 
many have I made unhappy! But for me 
three great wars would not have been 
fought; eighty thousand men would not 
have perished; parents, brothers, sisters, 
and wives would not have been bereaved 
and plunged into mourning. . . . That 
matter, however, I have settled with God." 
" Settled with God " ! an amazing state- 
ment, a statement which would seem the 
height of blasphemy, if it were not an ex- 
pression of noblest manliness; if it did not 
reveal the soul of a warrior dauntlessly 
fighting for a great cause, risking for it the 
existence of a whole country as well as his 
own happiness, peace, and salvation, and 
being ready to submit the consequences, 

Modern German Culture 209 

whatever they might be, to the tribunal of 
eternity. To say that a man who is willing 
to take such responsibilities as these makes 
himself thereby an offender against moral- 
ity appears to me tantamount to condemn- 
ing the Alps as obstructions to bicycling. 
A people, at any rate, that glories in the 
achievements of Luther has no right to 
cast a slur upon the motives of Bismarck. 
Whatever one may think of the worth 
of the cause for which Bismarck battled all 
his life the unity and greatness of Ger- 
many it is impossible not to admire the 
policy of moderation and self-restraint pur- 
sued by him after every one of his most 
decisive victories. And here again we note 
in him the peculiarly German military tem- 
per. German war-songs do not glorify 
foreign conquest and brilliant adventure; 
they glorify dogged resistance, and bitter 
fight for house and home, for kith and 
kin. The German army, composed as it 


2io Glimpses of 

is of millions of peaceful citizens, is essen- 
tially a weapon of defense. And it can 
truly be said that Bismarck, with all his 
natural aggressiveness and ferocity, has in 
the main been a defender, not a conqueror. 
He defended Prussia against the intol- 
erable arrogance and un-German policy 
of Austria; he defended Germany against 
French interference in the work of national 
consolidation; he defended the principle of 
state sovereignty against the encroach- 
ments of the Papacy; he defended the mon- 
archy against the republicanism of the Lib- 
erals and Socialists; and his last public act 
was a defense of ministerial responsibility 
against the new-fangled absolutism of his 
young imperial master. 

The third predominant trait of Bis- 
marck's character that stamps him as a 
soldier his unquestioning obedience to 
monarchical discipline is so closely bound 
up with the peculiarly German conceptions 

Modern German Culture 2 1 1 

of the functions and the purpose of the 
state, that it will be better to approach this 
part of his nature from the political instead 
of the military side. 


In no other of the leading countries of 
the world has the laissez faire doctrine had 
as little influence in political matters as in 
Germany. Luther, the fearless champion 
of religious individualism, was in questions 
of government the most pronounced advo- 
cate of paternalism. Kant, the cool dis- 
sector of the human intellect, was at the 
same time the most rigid upholder of cor- 
porate morality. It was Fichte, the ecsta- 
tic proclaimer of the glory of the individ- 
ual will, who wrote this dithyramb on the 
necessity of the constant surrender of pri- 
vate interests to the common welfare: 
" Nothing can live by itself or for itself; 
everything lives in the whole; and the 

2 1 2 Glimpses of 

whole continually sacrifices itself to itself 
in order to live anew. This is the law of 
life. Whatever has come to the conscious- 
ness of existence must fall a victim to the 
progress of all existence. Only there is a 
difference whether you are dragged to the 
shambles like a beast with bandaged eyes, 
or whether, in full and joyous presentiment 
of the life which will spring forth from 
your sacrifice, you offer yourself freely on 
the altar of eternity." 

Not even Plato and Aristotle went so far 
in the deification of the state as Hegel. 
And if Hegel declared that the real office 
of the state is not to further individual in- 
terests, to protect private property, but to 
be an embodiment of the organic unity of 
public life; if he saw the highest task and 
the real freedom of the individual in mak- 
ing himself a part of this organic unity of 
public life, he voiced a sentiment which was 
fully shared by the leading classes of the 

Modern German Culture 2 1 3 

Prussia of his time, and which has since 
become a part of the political creed of the 
Socialist masses all over Germany. 

Here we have the moral background of 
Bismarck's internal policy. His monarch- 
ism rested not only on his personal allegi- 
ance to the hereditary dynasty, although no 
mediaeval knight could have been more 
steadfast in his loyalty to his liege lord than 
Bismarck was in his unswerving devotion 
to the Hohenzollern house. His monarch- 
ism rested above all on the conviction that, 
under the present conditions of German po- 
litical life, no other form of government 
would insure equally well the fulfillment of 
the moral obligations of the state. 

He was by no means blind to the value 
of parliamentary institutions. More than 
once has he described the English Consti- 
tution as the necessary outcome and the 
fit expression of the vital forces of English 
society. More than once has he eulogized 

214 Glimpses of 

the sterling political qualities of English 
landlordism, its respect for the law, its com- 
mon sense, its noble devotion to national 
interests. More than once has he deplored 
the absence in Germany of " the class which 
in England is the main support of the state 
the class of wealthy and therefore conser- 
vative gentlemen, independent of material 
interests, whose whole education is directed 
with a view to their becoming statesmen, 
and whose only aim in life is to take part 
in public affairs"; and the absence of "a 
Parliament, like the English, containing 
two sharply defined parties, whereof one 
forms a sure and unswerving majority 
which subjects itself with iron discipline to 
its ministerial leaders." We may regret that 
Bismarck himself did not do more to de- 
velop parliamentary discipline; that indeed 
he did everything in his power to arrest the 
healthy growth of German party life. But 
it is at least perfectly clear that his reasons 

Modern German Culture 2 1 5 

for refusing to allow the German parties a 
controlling influence in shaping the policy 
of the government were not the result of 
mere despotic caprice, but were founded 
upon thoroughly German traditions, and 
upon a thoroughly sober, though one-sided 
view of the present state of German public 

To him party government appeared as 
much of an impossibility as it had appeared 
to Hegel. The attempt to establish it 
would in his opinion have led to nothing 
less than chaos. The German parties, as 
he viewed them, represented, not the state, 
not the nation, but an infinite variety of 
private and class interests, the interests of 
landholders, traders, manufacturers, labour- 
ers, politicians, priests, and so on; each par- 
ticular set of interests desiring the particu- 
lar consideration of the public treasury, and 
refusing the same amount of consideration 
to every other. It seemed highly desirable 

216 Glimpses of 

to him, as it did to Hegel, that all these in- 
terests should be heard; that they should be 
represented in a Parliament based upon as 
wide and liberal a suffrage as possible. 
But to entrust any one of these interests 
with the functions of government would, 
in his opinion, have been treason to the 
state; it would have been class tyranny of 
the worst kind. 

The logical outcome of all this was his 
conviction of the absolute necessity, for 
Germany, of a strong non-partisan govern- 
ment : a government which should hold all 
the conflicting class interests in check, 
which should force them into continual 
compromises with each other; a govern- 
ment which should be unrestricted by any 
class prejudices, pledges, or theories, 
which should have no other guiding star 
than the welfare of the whole nation. And 
the only basis for such a government he 
found in the Prussian monarchy, with its 

Modern German Culture 2 1 7 

glorious tradition of military discipline, of 
benevolent paternalism, and of self-sacrific- 
ing devotion to national greatness; with its 
patriotic gentry, its incorruptible courts, 
its religious freedom, its enlightened educa- 
tional system, its efficient and highly 
trained civil service. To bow before such 
a monarchy, to serve such a state, was in- 
deed something different from submitting 
to the chance vote of a parliamentary ma- 
jority; in this bondage even a Bismarck 
could find his highest freedom. 

For nearly forty years he bore this bond- 
age; for twenty-eight he stood in the place 
nearest to the monarch himself; and not 
even his enemies have dared to assert that 
his political conduct was guided by other 
motives than the consideration of public 
welfare. Indeed, if there is any phrase for 
which he, the apparent cynic, the sworn de- 
spiser of phrases, seems to have had a cer- 
tain weakness, it is the word, salus publica. 

218 Glimpses of 

To it he sacrificed his days and his nights; 
for it he more than once risked his life, for 
it he incurred more hatred and slander than 
perhaps any man of his time; for it he alien- 
ated his best friends; for it he turned not 
once or twice, but one might almost say 
habitually, against his own cherished preju- 
dices and convictions. The career of few 
men shows so many apparent inconsisten- 
cies and contrasts. One of his earliest 
speeches in the Prussian Landtag was a 
fervent protest against the introduction of 
civil marriage; yet the civil marriage clause 
in the German constitution is his work. 
He was by birth and tradition a believer in 
the divine right of kings, yet the King of 
Hanover could tell something of the man- 
ner in which Bismarck dealt with the di- 
vine right of kings if it stood in the way of 
German unity. He took pride in belong- 
ing to the most feudal aristocracy of west- 
ern Europe, the Prussian Junkerdom; yet 

Modern German Culture 2 19 

he has done more to uproot feudal privi- 
leges than any other German statesman 
since 1848. He gloried in defying public 
opinion; he was wont to say that he felt 
doubtful about himself whenever he met 
with popular applause; yet he is the founder 
of the German Parliament, and he founded 
it on direct and universal suffrage. He 
was the sworn enemy of the Socialist party 
he attempted to destroy it root and 
branch; yet through the nationalisation of 
railways and the obligatory insurance of 
workmen he infused more Socialism into 
German legislation than any other states- 
man before him. He began as a quixotic 
champion of royal autocracy; he died the 
advocate of the German nation against the 
capricious mysticism of imperial omnipo- 

Truly, a man who could thus sacrifice his 
own wishes and instincts to the common 
good; who could so completely sink his 

22O Glimpses of 

own personality in the cause of the nation; 
who with such matchless courage defended 
this cause against attacks from whatever 
quarter against court intrigue no less than 
against demagogues such a man had a 
right to stand above parties; and he spoke 
the truth, when, some years before leaving 
office, in a moment of gloom and disap- 
pointment he wrote under his portrait, 
" Patrise inserviendo consumer." 


There is a strange, but after all perfectly 
natural antithesis in German national char- 
acter. The same people that instinctively 
believes in political paternalism, that wil- 
lingly submits to restrictions of personal 
liberty in matters of state such as no Eng- 
lishman would ever tolerate, is more jealous 
of its independence than perhaps any other 
nation in matters pertaining to the intel- 

Modern German Culture 221 

lectual, social, and religious life of the indi- 
vidual. It seems as if the very pressure 
from without had helped to strengthen and 
enrich the life within. 

Not only all the great men of German 
thought, from Luther down to the Grimms 
and the Humboldts, have been conspicuous 
for their freedom from artificial conven- 
tions, and for the originality and homeli- 
ness of their human intercourse, but even 
the average German official wedded as he 
may be to his rank or his title, anxious as 
he may be to preserve an outward decorum 
in exact keeping with the precise shade of 
his public status is often the most delight- 
fully unconventional, good-natured, un- 
sophisticated, and even erratic being in the 
world, as soon as he has left the cares of 
his office behind him. Germany is the 
classic land of queer people. It is the land 
of Quintus Fixlein, Onkel Brasig, Lebe- 
recht Huhnchen, and the host of Fliegende 

222 Glimpses of 

Blatter worthies; it is the land of the beer- 
garden and the KafTekranzchen, of the 
Christmas-tree and the Whitsuntide merry- 
making; it is the land of country inns and of 
student pranks. What more need be said 
to bring before one's mind the wealth of 
hearty joyfulness, jolly good-fellowship, 
boisterous frolic, sturdy humour, simple di- 
rectness, and genuinely democratic feeling 
that characterises social life in Germany. 

And still less reason is there for dwelling 
on the intellectual and religious indepen- 
dence of German character. Absence of 
constraint in scientific inquiry and religious 
conduct is indeed the very palladium of 
German freedom. Nowhere is higher edu- 
cation so entirely removed from class dis- 
tinction as in the country where the im- 
perial princes are sent to the same school 
with the sons of tradesmen and artisans. 
Nowhere is there so little religious formal- 
ism coupled with such deep religious feel- 

Modern German Culture 223 

ing as in the country where sermons are 
preached to empty benches, while Tann- 
hauser and Lohengrin, Wallenstein and Faust, 
are listened to with the hush of awe and 
bated breath by thousands upon thousands. 
In all these respects socially, intellect- 
ually, religiously Bismarck was the very 
incarnation of German character. Al- 
though an aristocrat by birth and bearing, 
and although, especially during the years of 
early manhood, passionately given over to 
the aristocratic habits of dueling, hunting, 
swaggering and carousing, he was essen- 
tially a man of the people. Nothing was 
so utterly foreign to him as any form of 
libertinism; even his eccentricities were of 
the hardy homespun sort. He was abso- 
lutely free from social vanity; he detested 
court festivities; he set no store by orders 
or decorations; the only two among the in- 
numerable ones conferred upon him which 
he is said to have highly valued were the 

224 Glimpses of 

Prussian order of the Iron Cross, bestowed 
for personal bravery on the battlefield, and 
the medal for " rescuing from danger " 
which he earned in 1842 for having saved 
his groom from drowning by plunging into 
the water after him. What he thought of 
meaningless titles may be gathered from 
his remark anent the bestowal upon him 
by the present Emperor of the ducal dig- 
nity : " If ever I wish to travel incognito, I 
shall call myself Duke of Lauenburg." 

All his instincts were bound up with the 
soil from which he had sprung. He pas- 
sionately loved the North German plain, 
with its gloomy moorlands, its purple 
heather, its endless wheatfields, its kingly 
forests, its gentle lakes, and its superb 
sweep of sky and clouds. Writing to his 
friends when abroad he traveled very little 
abroad he was in the habit of describ- 
ing foreign scenery by comparing it to fa- 
miliar views and places on his own estates. 

Modern German Culture 225 

During sleepless nights in the Chancellery 
at Berlin there would often rise before him 
a sudden vision of Varzin, his Pomeranian 
country-seat, " perfectly distinct in the 
minutest particulars, like a great picture 
with all its colours fresh the green trees, 
the sunshine on the stems, the blue sky 
above. I saw every individual tree/' 
Never was he more happy than when alone 
with nature. " Saturday," he writes to his 
wife from Frankfort, " I drove to Rudes- 
heim. There I took a boat, rowed out on 
the Rhine, and swam in the moonlight, 
with nothing but nose and eyes out of 
water, as far as the Mausethurm near Bin- 
gen, where the bad bishop came to his end. 
It gives one a peculiar dreamy sensation to 
float thus on a quiet warm night in the 
water, gently carried down by the current, 
looking above on the heavens studded with 
moon and stars, and on each side the banks 
and wooded hilltops and the battlements of 


226 Glimpses of 

the old castles bathed in the moonlight, 
whilst nothing falls on one's ear but the 
gentle splashing of one's movements. I 
should like to swim like this every even- 
ing." And what poet has more deeply felt 
than he that vague musical longing which 
seizes one when far away from human 
sounds, by the brook-side or the hill-slope? 
" I feel as if I were looking out on the mel- 
lowing foliage of a fine September day," 
he writes again to his wife, " health and 
spirits good, but with a soft touch of mel- 
ancholy, a little homesickness, a longing 
for deep woods and lakes, for a desert, for 
yourself and the children, and all this mixed 
up with a sunset and Beethoven." 

His domestic affections were by no 
means limited to those united to him by 
ties of blood; he cherished strong patri- 
archal feelings for every member of his 
household, past or present. He possessed 
in a high degree the German tenderness for 

Modern German Culture 227 

little things. He never forgot a service 
rendered to him, however small. In the 
midst of the most engrossing public activity 
he kept himself informed about the min- 
utest details of the management of his es- 
tates, so that his wife could once laughingly 
say : a turnip from his own fields interested 
him vastly more than all the problems of 
international politics. 

His humour, also, was entirely of the 
German stamp. It was boisterous, rollick- 
ing, aggressive, unsparing of himself as 
little as of others, cynic, immoderate, but 
never without a touch of good-nature. His 
satire was often crushing, never venomous. 
His wit was racy and exuberant, never equi- 
vocal. Whether he describes his vis-a-vis 
at a hotel table, his Excellency So-and-So, 
as " one of those figures which appear to 
one when he has the nightmare a fat frog 
without legs, who opens his mouth as wide 
as his shoulders, like a carpet-bag, for each 

228 Glimpses of 

bit, so that I am obliged to hold tight on 
by the table from giddiness " ; whether he 
characterises his colleagues at the Frank- 
fort Bundestag as " mere caricatures of 
periwig diplomatists, who at once put on 
their official visage if I merely beg of them 
a light to my cigar, and who study their 
words and looks with Regensburg care 
when they ask for the key of the lavatory "; 
whether he sums up his impression of the 
excited, emotional manner in which Jules 
Favre pleaded with him for the peace terms 
in the words, " He evidently took me for a 
public meeting"; whether he declined to 
look at the statue erected to him at Co- 
logne, because he " didn't care to see him- 
self fossilized " ; whether he spoke of the 
unprecedented popular ovations given to 
him at his final departure from Berlin as a 
" first-class funeral " there is always the 
same childlike directness, the same na'ive 
impulsiveness, the same bantering earnest- 

Modern German Culture 229 

ness, the same sublime contempt for sham 
and hypocrisy. 

And what man has been more truthful in 
intellectual and religious matters? He, the 
man of iron will, of ferocious temper, was 
at the same time the coolest reasoner, the 
most unbiased thinker. He willingly sub- 
mitted to the judgment of experts, he 
cheerfully acknowledged intellectual talent 
in others, he took a pride in having re- 
mained a learner all his life, but he hated 
arrogant amateurishness. He was not a 
church-goer; he declined to be drawn into 
the circle of religious schemers and reac- 
tionary fanatics; he would occasionally 
speak in contemptuous terms of " the creed 
of court chaplains"; but writing to his wife 
of that historic meeting with Napoleon in 
the lonely cottage near the battlefield of 
Sedan, he said : " A powerful contrast with 
our last meeting in the Tuileries in '67. 
Our conversation was a difficult thing, if I 

230 Glimpses of 

wanted to avoid touching on topics which 
could not but affect painfully the man 
whom God's mighty hand had cast down." 
And more than once has he given vent to 
reflections like these : " For him who does 
not believe as I do from the bottom of 
my heart that death is a transition from 
one existence to another, and that we are 
justified in holding out to the worst of 
criminals in his dying hour the comforting 
assurance, mors janua vitce I say that for 
him who does not share that conviction, the 
joys of this life must possess so high a value 
that I could almost envy him the sensations 
they must procure him." Or these: 
" Twenty years hence, or at most thirty, we 
shall be past the troubles of this life, whilst 
our children will have reached our present 
standpoint, and will discover with astonish- 
ment that their existence (but now so 
brightly begun) has turned the corner and 
is going downhill. Were that to be the 

Modern German Culture 231 

end of it all, life would not be worth the 
trouble of dressing and undressing every 


We have considered a few traits of Bis- 
marck's mental and moral make-up which 
seem to be closely allied with German na- 
tional character and traditions. But after 
all, the personality of a man like Bismarck 
is. not exhausted by the qualities which 'he 
has in common with his people, however 
sublimated these qualities may be in him. 
His innermost life belongs to himself alone, 
or is shared, at most, by the few men of 
the world's history who, like him, tower in 
splendid solitude above the waste of the 
ages. In the Middle High German Alex- 
anderlied there is an episode which most 
impressively brings out the impelling mo- 
tive of such titanic lives. On one of his 
expeditions Alexander penetrates into the 

232 Glimpses of 

land of Scythian barbarians. These child- 
like people are so contented with their 
simple, primitive existence that they be- 
seech Alexander to give them immortality. 
He answers that this is not in his power. 
Surprised, they ask why, then, if he is only 
a mortal, he is making such a stir in the 
world. Thereupon he answers : " The Su- 
preme Power has ordained us to carry out 
what is in us. The sea is given over to the 
whirlwind to plough it up. As long as life 
lasts and I am master of my senses, I must 
bring forth what is in me. What would 
life be if all men in the world were like 
you?" These words might have been 
spoken by Bismarck. Every word, every 
act of his public career, gives us the im- 
pression of a man irresistibly driven on by 
some overwhelming, mysterious power. 
He was not an ambitious schemer, like 
Beaconsfield or Napoleon; he was not a 
moral enthusiast like Gladstone or Cavour. 

Modern German Culture 233 

If he had consulted his private tastes and 
inclinations, he would never have wielded 
the destinies of an empire. Indeed, he 
often rebelled against his task; again and 
again he tried to shake it off; and the only 
thing which again and again brought him 
back to it was the feeling, " I must; I can- 
not do otherwise." If ever there was a 
man in whom Fate revealed its moral sov- 
ereignty, that man was Bismarck. 

Whither has he gone now? Has he 
joined his compeers? Is he conversing in 
ethereal regions with Alexander, Caesar, 
Frederick? Is he sweeping over land and 
sea in the whirlwind and the thunder-cloud? 
Or may we hope that he is still working 
out the task which, in spite of all the im- 
periousness of his nature, was the essence 
of his earthly life the task of making the 
Germans a nation of true freemen?